Mike Rodd peers into a very uncertain future for the waterways.
The coming months are going to be absolutely critical for all of us who boat on our inland waterways, as it is clear that reports into the futures of both CRT and the EA – as I have mentioned in my previous columns – will soon come under consideration by the relevant government ministers. These reviews will ultimately determine not only how CRT and EA are going to operate, but what (if any) government funding they will receive. So you will have to forgive me if I concentrate in this Chairman’s column on these critical issues, as each and every one of us will need to understand the situation and do whatever we can to influence our local MPs, and also shout loudly across social networks, or wherever we have a voice.
2021 Annual Lockage Report
After Covid restrictions were lifted, most places recorded lockage counts that were close to pre-pandemic levels, although there was little boating in the first four months of 2021. Using 178 comparison sites, the report shows a 39.4% increase in total lockage from 2020 to 2021*. The estimated total lockage of all the Trust’s locks (not just those with lock-counters) was up from 2.65 million in 2020 to 3.70 million in 2021. This is slightly below the 2019 total, before the pandemic affected boating, when there were an estimated 3.96 million lockages. However, this compares a full year with only eight months, as 2021 saw little traffic before May due to the extended lockdown period. The twinned Hillmorton Locks 2 & 3 on the North Oxford Canal saw 8,147 lockages and remained the busiest locks on the English and Welsh system. New Marton on the Llangollen Canal was the second busiest, with 7,457 lockages, and Cholmondeston Lock on the Shropshire Union was third with 7,103 lockages. At the other end of the usage scale, the least number of lockages was at Lock 1, Belan, on the Montgomery Canal (46 lockages), with Lock 1, Graving, on the Dee Branch of the Shropshire Union, at 66 lockages and Carpenter’s Road Lock on the Old River Lea having 78 lockages.
Peter Fellows on upcoming proposals for the BSS and main navigation authorities.
I, like all NABO Councillors, was shocked to hear from John Devonald that he is seriously ill. He has stepped down from his roles with NABO and we all offer him our best wishes.
The future of CRT and the EA waterways will be decided in the next few weeks when the Defra review is submitted for consideration by the Government. As Mike Rodd explains in detail in his Chairman’s column, NABO is committed to supporting continued funding for both organisations. The Council decided that, as part of this support, we should all petition our MPs, asking them to back future funding, and I have included a template for the type of letter that we envisage will have the desired effect.
CRT are talking earnestly to the Government about the renewal of their contract to operate the canal and river system.
Could there possibly be a worse time for CRT to negotiate a financial settlement with DEFRA and the Treasury?
But they are trying, and it is time for us to press our MPs to support CRT, despite our concerns about the organisation.
Remember that going back to Government-controlled BW would be a nightmare, just like the current EA.
So we need you all to write to your MP.
We have prepared a draft letter and you can find it here.
Please take time to personalise it and send it off in the next week or two.
It will make a difference.
Remember you to be effective, you should write to your own MP, quoting your address.
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