Let Voting Commence

by Stephen Peters
(NABO and TBA preferred candidate in the CRT elections)

The election for the Boaters’ Representatives on the Canal & River Trust Council will take another step forward on 8 February 2012, when the ballot process commences. Eligible voters (i.e. one person for each boat that has a 12-month canal or river licence) will have the opportunity to cast their votes by post, email or SMS for this first Council election.

Who to vote for?

Please read the instructions carefully and peruse the individual election statements from the 33(?) candidates. Yes, as I predicted, there are dozens to choose from to fill the 4 vacancies on Council. Voting closes at noon on 9 March with election results being made available on 12 March and the first Council meeting planned for 28 March 2012.

I am grateful to NABO and TBA for their co-sponsorship and support and I hope that members of both august associations will place a “1” against my name on the ballot paper, or at the very least include me in your preferences.

You will see from my election address and articles on the NABO website that I have many years’ experience as a boat owner and an extensive knowledge of the inland waterways and the political nuances that are a feature of dealing with BW (soon to metamorphose into the CRT).

Representative or Delegate?

Some candidates have a narrower focus or a particular axe to grind but I suspect that they will find it difficult to truly represent the broad spectrum of boaters who use the navigations. Some people have stated that they will not vote for a candidate who “represents” one of the major user bodies, such as IWA or NABO, and to them I would say this – I am standing for election to be the voice of the individual boat owner, not to be a delegate for any one body to which I may belong.

Anyone who thinks I am going to be a NABO “puppet” clearly doesn’t know me! I may share their views on many subjects, but I will keep an independent mind, and if elected I shall strive to represent all boaters in general, irrespective of allegiances. I respect the individual views of all boaters and I know from experience that particular issues or interests can often have resonance throughout the boating world and affect our pastime more broadly than might at first appear.

Which agenda?

Some candidates have been criticised because they have not clearly set out their personal goals for serving on Council. It is difficult to make firm promises when we don’t know precisely how Council will function (it is supposed to meet only twice a year) and until it finds its feet the members will not know what can be achieved. One assumes that there will be sub-committees concentrating on specialist areas but Council will not be making operational decisions. That is the role of the Trustees.

I have been asked if I support The Boaters’ Manifesto and I have answered honestly that I do indeed endorse its major points. It is difficult to disagree with its sentiments, although I might put more emphasis on certain aspects and some of the aspirations are more easily realisable than others. Someone has commented that they would not support a candidate who says he agrees 100 per cent with the manifesto, so I can’t win that argument!

Which candidate?

In conclusion, I would say carefully weigh up the candidates and consider their credentials. Some may have hidden agendas but I can truthfully state that I have revealed everything that is relevant to this appointment. I don’t have any undeclared personal interests and I am not a member of IWA or a political party or Common Purpose or some other subversive pressure group.

The successful candidates will represent us for the next 4 years and they will be in the privileged position of being members of the CRT at a time when public membership is not yet possible. They will have a vote at the AGM and have powers to appoint or dismiss trustees. They will also be empowered to co-opt other persons to Council to bring their specialised input or skills. This is a role that only the very best candidates should be entrusted with.