National Inland Navigation Forum, October 2016

NINF met at the St Pancras Cruising Club on Saturday 22nd October 2015 with 6 of its 11 member organisations present, and, as usual, proved to be a useful meeting point, bringing together bodies involved in CRT, EA and other waterways.

Much of the meeting was dedicated to discussing the reports from all member groups about the general poor state of the CRT canals with many examples of vegetation going uncut and lock failures. Problems on the Thames were also discussed. It was recognized that CRT was restricted financially but that sharing a long term asset management programme with NINF would be welcomed by all. To this end it was agreed to seek a meeting with CRT’s Director responsible. From the EA’s side, it was felt that their leadership was strictly in a “wait-and-see” mode. Concern was expressed about the continuing problem with lack of full-time lock keepers and that the existing ones were being overstretched.

Discussion surrounded the possible taking over by CRT of EA’s navigational responsibilities. Delegates all saw this as inevitable and only NABO seems to question its’ viability. It was reported that CRT Trustees would be presented with a proposal in November/December.

The CRT review of all aspects of boat licencing was discussed and NINF members urged to get involved as it would have an impact on all our members. It was recognised that this would also be an opportunity to merge the EA registration processes with CRT’s licensing).

The situation of the proposed Milton Keynes/Bedford link was discussed and some members who had in the past been involved felt that despite some recent PR there was in fact little real progress.

Finally, several members raised the issue of boats which are “suitably prepared” so as to pass their BSS inspection but then clearly became unsafe between inspections. The nature of the BSS scheme as essentially a 3rd Party approach was pointed out, and that random inspections between the regular formal ones would be expensive and unpopular with the bulk of users, and would require a fundamental mind-set change. It was mentioned that (apparently) several of the smaller navigational authorities do in fact undertake such random inspections?

It was noted that the AGM would be held on Saturday 25th February 2017.

Mike Rodd