Chairman’s Report to the AGM 2020
Mike Rodd reflects on his last twelve months in the Chair.
Having resumed as Chair once again when Stella had to stand down, I am delighted that she has made such excellent progress health-wise. She has, however, had to move back on land and give up her boat, so I guess I am ‘it’ for a while. But my task is made so much easier by having such active and fully engaged colleagues, both on the Council and also as our Regional Representatives. And what a year this has proved to be – not just through the Covid lockdowns, but with both CRT and the EA clearly getting themselves geared up for a future in which they will have to bid for Government funding, by making extensive internal changes and very significant operational modifications.
At our last Council meeting, I was asked to give some guidance to boaters on the present virus situation, in which, at the time of writing, England is in lockdown. Previously, there have been different levels, depending on your area, with England having a Tier 1, 2 or 3 level of precaution and Wales in total lockdown. Where there is an obligation to move as a continuous cruiser, for example, we come to its complications as follows: a Tier 2 lockdown states: ‘Journeys should be limited where possible, but you can still travel to go to the shops, work and hospitality places that are permitted to open. This also applies in a Tier 3 lockdown. CRT has made allowances for this. There are other factors: a boater may be self-isolating because of his or her vulnerability to the virus. Or you may have come into contact with a person suspected of having the virus and again having to self-isolate. There have been emails sent to boaters for not moving far enough, saying that, due to the present situation, no further action will be taken. I would suggest that if you receive one of these emails, you contact CRT to make sure that it’s not on any record that could lead to issues at a later date, such as a restricted licence. I would stress that you should be aware of your area’s level of lockdown. If you need help or are isolating, you should make your respective welfare and support officer aware at the earliest opportunity. If there are any problems, you are welcome to contact me for guidance.
NABO has written to the MPs who are members of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Waterways about the licence terms and conditions.
We have also sent out a press release to Towpath Talk, Waterways World, Canal Boat and Narrow Boat World. The latter have just published a pro NABO comment encoring readers to invest £25 in joining - well done our new publicity officer Anne
The text of our letter reads
Canal and River Trust seeking powers beyond those granted in the 1995 Act
The Canal and River Trust (CRT) is seeking to revise its licence terms and conditions further through a consultation process with private boat licence holders. The National Association of Boat Owners (NABO) believes that there is one proposal of sufficient concern that it should be brought to your attention. Namely, CRT is seeking to exceed the powers granted to it by Parliament in the British Waterways Act 1995.
This is one of those NABO moments when our long-term knowledge, experience and memory pay back. Like no other inland boating organisation, we just love the small print and legalities. We do this so that boaters are represented with a balanced and informed view. We do not do this to find loops holes in the law or the terms; neither do we do it to support those with no respect for the law. We do this in the face of BW’s and now CRT’s intransigent and in our view illegal approach to our licence contract.
Our strength comes from our membership. Our influence comes from the long term work we do with CRT and other navigation authorities to build the relationships. That does not mean we agree with them on all things. There comes a time when we have use that strength and influence. This is now. You can be part of this by joining. The links are on the web page. You can help by joining now.