We have all heard of the serious breach and stoppages at the northern end of the T&M in the last few weeks. CRT could have done without it at any time, but not in the first months of the new organisation. The local team are obviously pulling out all the stops to get it fixed and get boaters moving again. It is an awakening to the new opportunities for fundraising and it must be done; we should welcome the chance to ask new contributors who enjoy the system to give money, spreading the load; and give too if we are able and willing. We are all thinking why it happened and could it have been avoided, perhaps by the return to the policy of lengthsmen who would have that important local knowledge. As an engineer who has worked on old equipment, I am only too aware of the fine judgement between keeping things going at low cost and throwing in the towel for expensive replacements. We should support the maintenance engineers who have to make these judgements and the funding they need to make them more precise. I wonder if, with the current spell of weather swings, we are seeing circumstances not seen within recent experience. Our role as boaters is always to tell navigation authorities if we are concerned about something, and to keep doing so.
I welcome the CRT announcement that from 2014 boat licence increases will be held at inflation only. This will provide confidence to newcomers and some relief to we who are paying the significant sums. Next year the increase will be at inflation plus 2% as for the last two years. This increase on the licence income is a tidy sum, not enough to mend a breach, but enough for something that makes a difference to boaters’ experience and not just lost in the big bucket of money that is needed for maintenance and overheads. My priorities are offside vegetation and mooring overstay enforcement. Now the pressure is on the EA to follow suit on their registration fees and hold increases down to inflation as well.
In the last few weeks the CRT Trustees debated the age-old issue of bona fide navigation. NABO made a submission prior to the meeting based on items from NABO News, including one from Tony’s ‘snippets’ of articles from the early days of NABO. Last year, we took the lead to sit with BW to help with the revised wording of the guidance notes, so we are satisfied with them at the moment. As I write, the paper from the CRT meeting has been released. There is much to agree with, but there are new elements to study and comment on and a few hoary old favourites. Some of these mirror the new proposals for mooring on the west end of the K&A. There will be a lot of work needed in the coming months to gather views, form a consensus and go into print.
Last month I let you all down with some incorrect wording in this column when referring to Sally Ash, CRT Head of Boating. I apologise and accept that my written comments were of an unacceptable standard and fall short of proper respect for Ms. Ash and CRT, who are doing a difficult job. NABO is from time to time in disagreement with navigation authorities, but I should not let that impinge on the accuracy of what I write.
Enough of CRT. We are coming up to another AGM and there is a lot to think about for the future of NABO: where we are going and how we should spend our energy. You are always very supportive, but there are just not enough of us at the moment, both as members and on the Council. We are not operating on a sustainable basis and we have some hard decisions to make. Please try and be there to support the Association and give your views.