Peter Braybrook explains how this organisation helps boaters in need.
The Waterways Chaplaincy is a growing network of around 100 volunteers serving the Inland Waterways from York to Woking and Llangollen to the Wash. Wherever you are, you can contact a chaplain through the website contact form at www.waterwayschaplaincy.org.uk/contact-us. I am based in Banbury on the South Oxford Canal and cover from Oxford to Napton Junction. But we are not parochial and I have served boaters on the Grand Union and Thames, and even one on the Huddersfield Narrow! Although a ministry of the Christian church, we are there for everybody of all faiths or none. We are pastorally proactive and evangelically reactive, which means that we will not push our faith onto anybody, but will share our story where we are given the opportunity to encourage and to bring the hope that we have found in our own lives.
Not a great deal to report, as all our movements are currently restricted to only the strictly necessary by the Covid regulations. But in line with Government's instructions on daily exercise and CRT's desire that that exercise should take place on the towpaths, they certainly appear to be very busy with runners and cyclists, as well as the usual walkers, at least in my Nottingham area of the canal. In this lockdown, there does appear to be a little more tolerance between local canal moorers and the general public, but it is a pity that the signs CRT has put up, reminding people to keep their distance from moored boats, aren't larger and more frequently placed. The same could also be said of the signs reminding cyclists of their duty to slow down.
In this paper, NABO is responding to CRT’s recent consultation and Zoom meetings, seeking suggestions from boaters to further address congestion, principally in the London area.
For several years, CRT sought views via the Boater Relationship Group and subsequently, when this collapsed, it facilitated meetings that resulted in the publication of its London Strategy document in June 2018. This document outlined the actions that CRT would take to address congestion in London.
We are concerned that CRT is seeking to repeat this exercise without first implementing a significant number of the promised outcomes. Surely, after all the effort that went into the 2018 strategy document, it would make sense to implement it in full and then carry out a review of where the strategy had worked or failed, before seeking to repeat the exercise. By CRT’s own figures the numbers of boats have not risen substantially since the strategy was published. The effects of the current pandemic have seen boats spread out further and the longer-term implications are as yet unclear.