Welfare officer's report
Ken Hylins reports
I have now renewed my links with the gypsy travellers, my original contact with them had left their service .
I have also forged links with McMillan cancer support, making them aware of the difficulties you can have in accessing long term care without a postcode as a marina based boater. Continuous Cruisers having the additional problem of regularly moving and access to mains electricity. A big winter problem if away from the boat.
This subject is, as some of you know, close to my heart. Communicating with all parties builds up my contacts and extends NABO’s profile; enabling me to help boaters at a very stressful and uncertain time. Assistance can be provided either by referring them to McMillan or dealing with the respective managing authority.
In the Chair March 2023
By the time you read this, we hope that there might just be some clarity about the future funding of both CRT and the Waterways part of the EA – I say “we hope” as it has all been so delayed, and the opinion being expressed in both organisations is that they expect a very miserable outcome. At the same time, the very basis of CRT is under review, and its precise role as a charity with (of course) charitable status is being questioned. In truth, this latter query comes as no surprise to many of us who are involved with running other charities, where we are aware that a charity must be transparent in how it operates, and certainly cannot be under the control of government – or, indeed, another charitable organisation. Many of us found it hard to see how CRT could operate as a charity if it remained under the ultimate control of government. Of relevance, by going into the Companies House website, one finds that CRT’s official Company Type: is “Private Limited Company by guarantee without share capital, use of 'Limited' exemption”. Clearly this all needs to be urgently sorted out – either CRT is a charity, or it isn’t!
Of course, the whole model introduced by David Cameron at the time when CRT was created was to move organisations such British Waterways out of government funding, with the objective that ultimately the CRT as a charity would be able to raise sufficient money from other sources. The assumption was that after 15 years CRT would have become self-funding, after which it would be acceptable for it to receive no further direct government subsidy. On this basis, therefore, CRT should at that point indeed require no further support from government coffers, providing a rationale for announcing any cessation of funding following the current review!
On November 22nd 2022 in a commons debate Michal Fabricant (MP for Lichfield), made an impassioned speech, in support of Canal and River Trust, volunteers and their efforts to maintain and restore the network. However, there was a distinct warning in his summary of what is to come:
‘Everyone here realises the importance for the Canal & River Trust to have some idea of what its grant will be after March 2027, when it terminates. It needs to plan which canals remain open.
We do not want to see that happen to our canals and waterways, but we need some certainty. I am a little disappointed, though I understand the reasons why the Minister could not give certainty today. I am sure that “forthwith” means not a year or two years from now. I am sure that “forthwith” does not even mean three months from now. I hope that “forthwith” means that within a few weeks we will learn precisely what grant the Canal & River Trust (C&RT)will be given. Once it knows that, it can plan ahead. Only by planning ahead will we be able to maintain such an important element of our national heritage.’
We are now at the three month definition of forthwith, we still don’t know what the grant will be after 2027 and consequently which canals will remain open. It must be very disheartening to volunteers who have donated hours of their time to be faced with the threat of closure. For example the valiant efforts of people to restore the Montgomery to a navigable state, only to be overwhelmed by a wave of opposition from ecologists and bean counters.
The Canal & River Trust has this week started a £533,000 ten-week project to repair the Grade II Listed Interchange Basin Towpath Bridge on the Regent’s Canal in Camden.
Built in 1846, the historic bridge known locally as ‘Dead Dog bridge’, is an important local landmark carrying the Regent’s Canal towpath across the canal basin beneath the Camden Interchange Warehouse (‘Dead Dog Tunnel’), and is the busiest canal footbridge in the country with over one million walking and cycling visits per year.
The work, which is due to be completed by the end of March 2023, will include: repairs to the bridge’s wrought iron lattice parapets; cleaning of the underlying cast iron beams; and cleaning and repointing the abutments and approach parapets.
The bridge will be closed throughout the project, and towpath diversion routes will be in place. The canal will remain open for boats to navigate.
“The Interchange Basin Towpath Bridge, known locally as ‘Dead Dog’ bridge is a key route for people using the canal through Camden and with over one million visits each year, is one of the busiest bridges on our network. Now over 175 years old, the bridge’s striking wrought iron lattice parapets will be lovingly restored, ensuring this historic bridge continues to carry millions of visitors enjoying the Regent’s Canal in Camden, for many years to come.”
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