These are the notes from the meeting held in Milton Keynes on the 19th January 2015 between representatives of the National Boating Associations and CRT.
Mike Rodd, Mark Tizard – NABO
Les Etheridge, Gren Messham – IWA,
Paul Le Blique – AWCC
Steve Jay – ACC
Richard Parry, Denise Yelland, Debbie Lumb, – C&RT
Plus Vicky Taylor CRT (item 5 only)
Jim Owen, Alan Wildman RBOA
1. Matters arising
Debbie Lumb (DL) was introduced and welcomed by all. Concern was raised by attendees about the lateness of receipt of the papers given the length of some of the attachments. Richard Parry (RP) apologised for this, explaining we had been awaiting final legal drafting to ensure the attendees received the final draft of the T&C’s. It was noted that the attendees might have further comments once they had had longer to study in greater detail and this was accepted and welcomed by the Trust. It was agreed to seek further comments by the end of the week (end of 23 January) given the timescales involved.
2. Visitor Mooring (VM) Framework
DL briefly went through the visitor mooring framework explaining that the purpose of the Framework is to ensure consistency when changes to VMs are proposed going forward, to provide a clear process for local decisions aligned with a national policy. It is intended that a wider visitor mooring strategy will be drafted during 2015, which will include full consultation.
Points made and noted were:
• any consultation / proposal for change should have both a national as well as a local view and this would be clarified within the framework and wider visitor mooring strategy.
• there is no default that visitor moorings stay times will be reduced to 48hrs. We may see some 48hr mooring expanded to 7 days, for example, where this is appropriate given the usage observed.
• DL confirmed that Matthew Symonds had been involved in the working group and that the lessons on the K&A were incorporated into the Framework
All attendees broadly welcomed the framework.
3. Changes to License T&C’s
RP explained C&RT were proposing to make changes to the boat license terms and conditions this spring in order to address a number of areas in the drafting where clarification would be beneficial, helping the Trust become clearer and to communicate requirements better, with clearer definitions of what we expect of licence holders. However they will not (and is not intended to) help solve issues such as ‘ghost home moorings’. Denise Yelland (DY) explained that the timing of the changes is to address a backlog of changes (as the T&C’s have not been reviewed for some time), influenced by areas where customers have asked for clarity. It is proposed that the new T&C’s will go on the Trust’s website – with a table to clearly explain the changes proposed – with a dedicated email address given for customers’ comments and questions.
Points clarified were:
• whilst understanding the concerns raised, permitting limited access to C&RT employees to move on to (and cross) a boat when requiring access to boats moored on the outside is needed in rare cases to ensure that we can visually check the details of any craft when this can’t be seen from the towpath.
• if craft are moored against 3rd party land C&RT gain access usually via the water or we gain permission from the landowner (though this is not always straightforward).
• RP stated that C&RT were comfortable that the Judge’s comments made in the Mayers case had no bearing on the T&C’s or the Trust’s Guidance.
• At point 3.1, DY explained, in response to concerns, that the word ‘cruise’ already applies within the current T&C’s and that the proposal is to revise the clause to provide clarity as to what is required to ‘cruise’ – linking it to the need to move at least every 14 days.
• DY explained the Trust would try to ensure that people read the T&C’s by various methods including pop up reminders when people renew their licences on line, serving as a reminder of what their choices mean as well as a link to the full T&C’s. DY will follow up the suggestion that the welcome letter currently sent to ‘Continuous Cruisers’ (CC-ers) is sent to everyone who gets a licence to help promotion of the T&C’s given that some boaters switch during their licence period.
• DY explained that we do not depend upon marinas to notify the Trust of people move off their home mooring as we currently cannot ask Marina’s to breach their data protection responsibilities, but the T&C’s changes will allow this
• RP agreed that the revised T&C’s un-tracked ‘final’ document and the table explaining the changes would be forwarded to all to allow further review.
• MT asked that longer was needed to review the changes to the terms and conditions as there had been insufficient time between issuing of the draft and this meeting (one working day). The offer to distribute background documents was welcomed.
4. Enforcement Update
DY described a provisional revised enforcement regime for CC-ers. It was agreed that the proposals would be kept confidential until they had been discussed with the Trust’s Board and a final proposal produced, if agreed
Points clarified were:
• the current information relating to boaters without a home mooring are:
16 % of c.5,400 CC-ers were recorded cruising within a range of <5 kms, and 66% in a range of <20 kms. DY stated these were top line figures that were still being verified – they include some boats licensed later in the year – but they were likely to be a reasonable indication of the numbers with a very limited range of movement.
• RP and DY agreed that the Trust should develop a clear response to the question ‘how far should I travel to comply?’, and this is being drafted.
• winter moorings provision for 2015 / 16 will be clarified at the next meeting as it requires a wider discussion
• RP agreed to update attendees after the Trust Board had met so they can help with the effective communication of this policy.
• MT asked if CRT had the will and capability to carry out any change to the enforcement regime. RP and DY confirmed that they had subject to the Trust’s board approval.
All attendees were broadly in agreement with these proposals.
Vicky Taylor (VT) from the Trust’s Asset Management team gave a presentation on the current dredging programme, explaining the budget has been increased from £7M to £8M for 2015/16 and rising to £10m pa in the years following, as well as the draft ‘Sediment management strategy’, which should be finalised by September 2015.
After discussions the following points were clarified:
• RP explained that the Trust’s financial position meant that we could give a high level of certainty that this amount of dredging would be delivered and the budget not cut. Priorities as to where the dredging is to take place are still being finalised as part of the business planning process capturing local input raised via Waterway teams.
• the plan is regularly reviewed with the major works teams and local boating business colleagues to understand their needs and see if works can be combined where this is practicable.
• VT explained that she will be working with DL on the customer service standards project that will look at the dredging profiles for each canal, to see if we can employ a wider service approach to determine priorities going forward instead of simply an engineering-led solution.
• VT will advise of a contact number / email address that boaters could use to report areas where spot dredging is needed as the programme includes a budget to tackle newly reported problems.
• MR confirmed that he and MT had met Sean Williams, Welfare Officer, and after a very useful discussion they were going to support him in publicising some FAQ’s for boaters. RP offered for Sean to brief others similarly.
• DL said she would coordinate the circulation of the supporting information esp. regarding licence T&C’s. DL also advised she would see if she could get an extranet web page set up for the group so they could access attachments and files more directly in future.
Date of next meeting to be early March (tbd). Additional items to be added to the next meeting agenda included a briefing on the vegetation management plan and winter mooring provision for 2015 / 16. Associations were invited to submit any further items for inclusion.