Calor has announced that from 1st February 2023, the Cube, 3.9kg Propane, 4.5kg Butane, 6Lite Propane and 12kg Butane will be discontinued. This means that boaters won’t be able to buy new cylinders or exchange existing cylinders of these sizes for a refill.
This doesn't come as much of a surprise because these small sizes have been virtually unobtainable for years. Roumers started last year, but Calor staff are alleged to have been denying this right up to January's announcement.
The commonly used bottles for boaters and camper vans are the 3.9kg propane and the 4.5kg butane, same cylinder size. Many gas lockers are designed around these long standing sizes, and alternatives are a bit of a compromise, if not impossible. We understand that the number of boats and vans affected is numbered in the tens of thousands.
The Calor suggestion is to change for the 6kg propane or 7kg butane. But these are taller and will not always fit into the gas locker. Calor say If you’re unable to increase your storage facilities, an alternative could be found through Campingaz (907 = 2.72kg). Of course this butane and not a substitute for the propane cylinder, and it is expensive, And of course the marinas are not allowed to stock this under their exclusive dealer agreement. so not available at the waterside. It is anybody's guess if Campinggaz are ready for this transfer.
There are other suppliers and Flogas is the obvious choice. Their bottles are a slightly different size, so check first here: https://www.flogas.co.uk/shop/category/all-cylinders
There are also refillable bottles available and if you are high volume user and have transport , this makes sense, see here :https://www.gasproducts.co.uk/gaslow-r67-2-7kg-refillable-cylinder-1-with-level-gauge.html
Calor and Flogas bottles are not user refillable, whatever nonsense you may read elsewhere.
NABO wrote to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission last year complaining about Calor's behavior. We shall have to consider whether we do so again.
NABO cannot recommend Calor as a supplier of bottled gas.
We see the minutes of the forum meeting held on Wednesday 22nd December.
These include the first update we have seen on the recent facilities consultation.
Based on these results, we are proposing to include water, waste and recycling, Elsan and
pump-out in the minimum provision. There will be a maximum 5-hour cruising time between
water and Elsan points, and 10 hours between pump-outs (with more provision in very busy
areas). We are proposing that showers, washing machines and tumble dryers do not form part
of the minimum provision. However, we do not plan to close them immediately. Where
possible, we hope that other local providers (mooring providers, clubs) will take over the
running and maintenance of these facilities.
Although most boats have toilets on board, the consultation shows that boaters are keen for
the Trust to continue to provide toilets. However, they are expensive to maintain and many are
vulnerable to vandalism. We will maintain toilets in visitor destinations and where they are
used by staff and volunteers, who will be able to open them to boaters on request, but they
will not be public toilets for everyone to use all the time. MS welcomes the Forum’s comments
and ideas in relation to toilets in particular, as more work is needed on this aspect of the
minimum standard and it may affect disabled boaters in particular.
The details are here
CRT own Navigation Yard in Northwich and have now offered it for sale. The site has been the center for the management and maintenance of the Weaver navigation since the river was developed for coastal craft.
Prior to Covid, CRT used the offices as part of the NW region. NABO members have attended many meetings there. But with the recent change in centers for the regions, this historic site is apparently surplus to requirements. We wonder how CRT will manage the heavy maintenance required for the Weaver locks and sluices.
Local politicians are asking CRT to reconsider. Some of the suggestions made are for its use are hosting learning spaces, engineering and heritage skills training, public exhibitions, and meeting spaces as well as offering SME’s attractive small units of office space. It is not clear that they are offering to pay for this!
The sale details are here: https://www.novaloca.com/commercial-land/for-sale/northwich/navigation-road/225586?search=true
Wales and the South West
On 20th October, I attended the CRT Wales User Forum, with six other users and three CRT folk, but unfortunately the Regional Director, Mark Evans, was down with another dose of Covid! Most of the meeting was taken up with long presentations about all the wonderful things CRT and others are doing on the Llangollen and on developments on the Montgomery and Swansea canals. There was a bit on the Mon & Brec, where my only input was regarding the problems with vegetation management – but, as we saw that week, at last that is underway. CRT staff admitted that they have had to revisit all their instructions to the subcontractors! But the low number of attendees at this Forum was depressing to say the least.
On 26th October, I represented NABO at Glandŵr Cymru’s (the Canal & River Trust in Wales) celebration of its 10th anniversary as guardian of the Welsh waterways, held at the very impressive Welsh Senedd in Cardiff. Of importance was an excellent and very supportive speech by the Welsh Minister for Climate Change, Julie James, who was supported by the Chairman of Glandŵr Cymru, and CRT's Richard Parry. Leading the event was Mark Evans, the Regional Director of CRT for Wales and the South West.
On the K&A, extensive winter work is underway, including the important second phase of upgrading the feed into the canal at the Crofton pumping station. Also dredging is now planned on the stretch around Hungerford – hopefully vegetation management will also take place soon!
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