On Tuesday 29th October 2019 I represented NABO at the well-attended meeting of the above Forum which brings together representatives of a wide cross section of users of the Thames, largely through the 8 River User Groups (the RUGs) and representative user groups, together with relevant EA personnel.  Chaired by EA's Thames Waterways Director, Julia Simpson, and the Waterway Manager, Barry Russell, this 5-hour meeting proved to be most valuable and it is clear that the new-look EA is making every effort to consult with to its key river users and so move its navigational responsibilities forward over the next 5 years.

Following an overview of immediate past activities and the new structures etc, the meeting focused on identifying the key issues of importance to the various river users. Every delegate was given an opportunity to express their organisation’s views on such issues and clearly there were some degree of divergent opinions. However, it is interesting to see that the provision of waste disposal, pumpout facilities and clearing river-side vegetation were generally felt to be essential to all users and, indeed, the major services boaters expected. (Doesn’t this sound very similar to recent CRT NAG discussions!!?) In addition, of course, on the Thames is also the provision of assisted passage through locks – viewed important on the Thames given the size of locks and the variety of craft which use them.

Of special interest was the announcement that EA would soon be seeking tenders to manage all EA moorings on the Thames. The requirements and subsequent implementation would reflect recent experiences resulting from the exercises carried out over the past few years.

Of much interest towards the end of the meeting were discussions led by the EA on how they were seeking to communicate more effectively with their users! Again, welcomed by all and supported by a small TNUF working party.

Minutes of the meeting will be circulated as soon as available.

Mike Rodd