David Fletcher explains the new Examination Check Procedures.
The BSS team members are on a campaign at the moment to improve the consistency and quality of the examinations. We are all familiar with the discussions about how my boat passed last time, so why has it failed now? These events do nothing to improve the confidence of boaters, and they don’t improve the confidence of the navigation authorities (NAs) either. They are worried. We should not forget that the BSS examination has only an incidental role in the boat owner’s safety (the so called ‘first party risk’). For NAs it is about making sure that all the boats they have licenced are not a danger to others. This in the NAs’ duty of care. The statistics show that a third of boats fail their BSS examinations. The actual number is probably higher, because some failure points are fixed at the time and are not recorded. It is not a good picture.
This has been a bumper couple of months for CRT’s finances. By quietly auctioning off four more listed properties, including two in London, they have another £4m in the coffers to spend, who knows on what? I do hope it’s for more of those tacky blue and white signs.
I wonder how the sale of the Top Lock Cottage at Tardebigge got past CRT’s Heritage Impact Assessment. Presumably the fact that this was where Tom Rolt and Robert Aickman met on nb Cressy, leading to the formation of the IWA, had no ‘impact’ on their decision. You’d have thought the IWA might have objected to the sale for this reason alone. Never mind, there’s still a plaque there marking the spot.
And then there’s Bugeddin. Listed it might be but there are ways around that protection for anyone with the knowledge and money to persist. Who knows, it may end up looking like this wonderfully enhanced lock cottage we found on our travels. Better by water? Hunt the cottage…
The project’s aim is to divert water from Minworth Waste Water Treatment Facility, which normally flows into the River Tame and on to the Trent/Humber and out to sea, and transfer it to the South East where water is in short supply. Using the Grand Union Canal as a conduit for this is one of several schemes being evaluated. Water would be taken by pipeline (two possible routes) to join the canal near Braunston. It would then be abstracted in Hertfordshire: possible locations are Leighton Buzzard, Tring or Hemel Hempstead. The EA favours Leighton Buzzard so that water is not taken over the Tring summit as apparently this could adversely affect chalk streams in the area.
The project also aims to improve biodiversity, could tackle the problem of invasive species etc. For example, zander and signal crayfish are prevalent in some parts and their spread must be avoided. The whole canal will be surveyed, pound by pound, to inform calculations of flow and how a slight increase in water level might affect boating (e.g. under low bridges).
The project group needs local information from other parties to flag up any constraints they might face. I suggested that they contact boat clubs; their members will be aware not just of boating issues but also be representatives of local communities. They may also be able to identify other opportunities for improvement (e.g. to towpaths). If members who are particularly familiar with the GU between Braunston and Tring know of any issues that the project leaders should take into consideration, please let me know and I will pass them on.
Mike Rodd’s 2020-21 Annual Report to the AGM
This has been a particularly interesting year and especially a real joy to be working with so many new members of your Council, even if the bulk of meetings have had to be via the internet. It has also been encouraging to see a small increase in membership – largely, I am sure, because of the issues we have been tackling, which have a direct impact on most boaters.
What has been the most worrying development, however, has been the seemingly growing feeling that both CRT and the EA are actively ignoring the views of their prime customers, us boaters. Yes, at times we have publicly opposed some of their actions and/or proposals, but we have consistently said that we aim to fill the role of – and indeed must always remain – their ‘critical friends’. And with both of their agreements regarding government funding coming up soon, they need more friends than ever right now – and especially the boaters, who care more than anyone else about the waterways!
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