Listening to boat owners, Speaking out for boat owners, Representing boat owners.


National Inland Navigation Forum (NINF) meeting: 17th October 2020

A Zoom-based meeting of this valuable forum brought together representatives of NABO, RBOA, CBOA, DBA,TBA, HNBC and the General Secretary, Michael Stimpson.

As always, the meeting gave us an opportunity to share our views on a number of key issues. Being largely London focused, the first discussion related to CRT’s request for input on the handling of the over-populated situation on the London waterways and it was agreed that the problem in London (and elsewhere on the system) was folk who had no interest in the waterways buying boats to live on. Adding to the problem was the difficulty of turning existing moorings into residential moorings or indeed in creating new ones, and it was mentioned that the existing planning regulations needed to be addressed. It was noted that there were many off-line locations available which could be used to provide residential moorings especially along the main line of the Grand Union. RBOA agreed to provide a paper on the subject to circulate to members, and the General Secretary will discuss the situation with the EA and CRT.

Thames Navigation Users Forum: 20 October 2020

This online meeting of TNUF was, rather like the recent NNUF (previously reported on), yet another example of how not to use the available technology – in this case a voice only system was used, with most users being muted until being asked if they had any queries following EA presentations. Those who said they did were then noted and given time to comment but there was really no opportunity for any proper debate, and most queries answered by “we will take that up after the meeting”.

In truth, most of the material presented was a rerun of the NNUF materials with of course, more reference to the Thames situation. I must say, though, that this time the EA presenters did try not to just read through their previously provided material but to give what proved to be good summaries. The overview of Thames work being undertaken now and in the near future was particularly impressive and it is clear that the additional funding provided was being well used.

National Navigation Users Forum 6 October 2020

This online meeting of NNUF proved to be somewhat difficult as only a few of the attendees were able to make full use of the available video conference tools. Most attendees were limited to a phone-in link with only a few of the 30+ attendees being able to sign into the full conference facilities. (I could sign in for vision but not sound!)

Unfortunately, as we have reported on in the past, the EA fell into the trap of long presentations (often just reading the slides we had received beforehand) and this was made worse on this occasion by the poor communications technology. Much time given to telling us how well they had coped with the difficulties posed by the lockdown: Whilst this was of course true, it did not need almost a quarter of the meeting telling us about it. The communications problems then made it difficult for us to comment.

Hammersmith Bridge closed to navigation.


Repair-fund black hole closes Hammersmith Bridge | Construction News

In August, the foot and cycle access over the bridge was closed after the summer heat wave made cracks in the cast iron supports deteriorate. Because the risk is of sudden collapse, all navigation on the Thames is closed under the bridge as well. The 133-year-old cast iron suspension bridge in west London was closed to motorists in April last year after the faults were detected.

Hammersmith Bridge is an early design of suspension bridge that crosses the River Thames in west London. It links Barnes on the south side of the river to Hammersmith on the north side. It is mostly used by residents on the south side to access London, and there is no direct alternative.

A Government task force has been launched to co-ordinate the bridge rebuild which will take many years and cost around £150m. The owners are Hammersmith and Fulham Council who obviously don’t have that sort of money. Ongoing investigations have been paid for by Transport for London. Proposals for quick fix for residents include a passenger ferry, or temporary foot and cycle bridge.

None of this helps navigation. So for us there are no Pool of London Passages for the foreseeable future, and no cruise boats operating from Hampton Court to central London. And there will be no University Boat races either.

Thames Navigation Users Forum

On 3rd March, I represented NABO at the above Forum which brings together relevant EA personnel and representatives of a wide cross-section of users of the Thames, including the eight River User Groups (the RUGs) and many other representative groups. Chaired by the Thames Director, Julia Simpson, the very long meeting was valuable and, above all, illustrated that the new-look EA is making every effort to listen to its key river users in moving its navigational responsibilities forward over the next five years.