The National Inland Navigation Forum, NINF, met at the St Pancras Cruising Club on Saturday 24th October 2018. 6 of its member bodies (AWCC, NABO, RBOA, DBA, IWA & CBOA) were represented, together with the General Secretary, Michael Stimpson. This Forum is a useful meeting point bringing together navigational bodies involved in CRT, EA and other waterways. The following summarises some of the major items discussed.

From the many recent leaks, it is clear that CRT is being pressurised by the Minister to re-bid for CRT to take responsibility for EA’s navigations, and this is probably key to CRT receiving government support once the present deal on funding expires. Whilst it is probably inevitable now that this will happen, and most members of NINF agreed with this, NABO continues at this time not support the takeover, primarily as many of our members believe that CRT had yet to prove it is capable of managing its present responsibilities.

There was also discussion on the concerns about CRT apparently selling off sites of heritage significance. Members had tried to obtain CRT’s heritage register but so far had not succeeded. Members will continue to seek this and also, where appropriate, query any proposals which are felt not to be in the interest of protecting the heritage of our waterways.

The question of CRT selling off BWML seems to be close to a resolution and NINF believes that this will be in the interests of both CRT and other marina operators as it will offer a far more level playing field to all.

A detailed report on the recent World Canal Conference, held in Ireland, was presented and it was notable from this how well the Irish waterways are being government funded and, hence, well maintained by knowledgeable and motivated staff.

The recent (so-called) consultation on the proposed 3 (or 5 year?) increases in EA’s registration fees (5.7% per annum for the Thames and higher for others) was reviewed and given the poor response and the short time allowed for any submission to influence the outcomes, all representative felt that this really showed the contempt which EA holds for its boat owners and epitomises a comment made a few years ago that boat owners were all "wealthy and could afford any increase"! In general it was felt that EA was presently being being very poorly run and seemed disinterested in its navigational interests. All members were urged to make their feeling known if indeed the proposed increases go ahead.

Generally a wide-ranging and most valuable meeting.

Mike Rodd