The National Inland Navigation Forum, NINF, met at the St Pancras Cruising Club on Saturday 10th February 2018. 8 of its member bodies were represented, together with the General Secretary, Michael Stimpson. This Forum continues to be a useful meeting point bringing together navigational bodies involved in CRT, EA and other waterways – especially important at this time given the on-going saga about the relationship between EA and CRT.
Of special interest at this meeting was the presence (by invitation) of CRT’s Peter Walker, who reports directly to the Chief Operating Officer Julie Sharman, and who has been deeply involved in the in-depths reviews of the EA’s assets etc. Peter expressed CRT’s regret that the decision had been made by the Minister not, at this time anyway, to proceed with CRT taking responsibilities for EA’s navigations. Whilst most members of NINF agreed this decision was unfortunate, NABO continues to be one of the few representative bodies which does not support the takeover, primarily because of the concern expressed by many of its members that CRT had yet to prove it is capable of managing its present responsibilities without taking on additional, very complex ones.
It was generally felt though that all would support CRT taking over responsibility for the Basingstoke Canal from the 2 relevant local authorities as this would bring some long term stability and also support the amazing volunteers who had struggled for many years to keep the canal open.
The GOBA (Great Ouse Boating Association) representative however felt that EA was proving to be totally unable to manage waterways of interest to its members and felt any move away from EA should be supported!! He added though that there had been a very satisfactory outcome to EA’s proposal to sell off moorings at Ely, with the local Council taking responsibility and most users were happy with the situation now.
Peter was naturally questioned on the present internal CRT re-organisation but being one of those senior officers whose job is being re-defined, was not able to add anything new at this stage.
The Historic Narrow Boat Club (HNBC) representative discussed its’ project to capture information relating to the waterways folk who have been involved in the past and urged NINF members to assist where possible.
There was discussion on the concerns about CRT apparently selling off sites of heritage significance. CRT’s Peter Walker discussed the process and assured members that every effort was made to protect such sites. However, he also added that CRT was facing massive funding shortfall when the government grant ran out.
The General Secretary, Michael Stimpson, reported that the NINF’s finances were sound.