Editor, Peter Fellows, includes a roundup of members’ photos.
It’s been a busy summer on the waterways as many people decided on a ‘staycation’ instead of holidaying abroad, with hireboat companies reportedly fully booked. Unfortunately, those who decided to head north had their travel plans disrupted by a series of stoppages on the Macclesfield, Peak Forest, Leeds and Liverpool and Rochdale canals. Further south those on the Leicester Arm of the GU and the South Oxford did not fare much better. The lack of maintenance brought lock failures and a lack of vegetation management resulted in many members sharing photos of overhanging trees with lines of sight obscured, encroaching reed beds and places where the canals were narrowed to one boat-width. I’ve included a selection of their photos in this issue. The issue of CRT’s revised terms and conditions rumbles on, with letters from members agreeing with NABO’s stance and Mike Rodd further questioning aspects of them in his Chairman’s column. Mike is also delighted that the EA has made a U-turn in employing the car parking company to manage Thames moorings, but is concerned that the waterways may becoming ‘Disneyfied’, like Forestry England’s Westonbirt National Arboretum in an attempt to broaden their appeal to a wider audience to secure further Government funding.
The Environment Agency are consulting on their proposals relating to Boat registration. Charges are to apply from 1st January 2022. The web site link is: https://consult.environment-agency.gov.uk/environment-and-business/nav-boat-reg-charge/
The proposals apply to all navigable waterways managed by the Environment Agency i.e. principally the non-tidal Thames, Anglian Waterways and the Medway.
The proposals are wide ranging and, whilst providing for increased registration charges for 2022 to 2024, and also seek to make many changes to the current charging regimes regarding classes of craft, measurement of craft, registration periods, payment methods, and many other aspects of craft registration.
The Thames Recreational Powered Boating Organisations, which includes NABO, have many concerns about the proposals and have responded directly on behalf of their members.
However, to demonstrate our members concerns, the Boating Organisations are urging all their members to respond individually. Please refer to the briefing note here.
NABO also has suggested appropriate responses to the consultation here.
The consultation closes on 16 September 2021
The Thames EA have issued an update regarding the Thames moorings management contract with District Enforcement.
The Environment Agency’s contract with District Enforcement, will be brought to an end from 30th September 2021. They say that this decision has been taken following a review that subsequently identified issues with our internal procurement processes, rather than as a result of any fault by District Enforcement.
District Enforcement will cease operations under the contract on 31st August 2021, with the following four weeks being spent removing their signage from our sites. We expect to look into options to retender for this work in the future but in the meantime moorings will be managed by the Environment Agency’s Waterways staff.
NABO with other boating organisations has been very active in criticism of the way in which this contract was awarded. EA have for a long time refused to acknowledge that there had been a problem. We are delighted that they have now seen some common sense. Our view is that enforement should always be carried out by Navigation Authorities alone.
Peter Braybrook reports
Since the last Council meeting, I attended the WM Regional Forum on 25th May. I have commented to Matthew Symonds about the constant spin that boaters only pay a fifth of the cost of canal upkeep. I have noticed that there are more infrastructure failures than ever - Hillmorton locks and Factory locks are closed for unplanned gate repairs, apart from other repairs due to ‘bridge strikes’, ‘vandalism’ etc., and two lift-bridge failures so far this season. Paddle defects are not being attended to in a timely fashion. Apparently it is OK to leave a lock with only one paddle working for months. The mowing trial on the Oxford canal is at option three (i.e. one cut from edge to hedge at the end of the season) and hence this is a typical towpath at the moment. I have spoken to two CCers and a leisure boater (a NABO member) who told me they have received no notice of the T&C consultation. They were surprised that display of their ‘KG’ logo was being proscribed without express consent in writing. I have been engaged as part of a BSS AC sub-group in supporting the interim review of the BSS examination checking procedures of 2015.
Page 12 of 74