Thames Navigation Users Forum: 20 October 2020

This online meeting of TNUF was, rather like the recent NNUF (previously reported on), yet another example of how not to use the available technology – in this case a voice only system was used, with most users being muted until being asked if they had any queries following EA presentations. Those who said they did were then noted and given time to comment but there was really no opportunity for any proper debate, and most queries answered by “we will take that up after the meeting”.

In truth, most of the material presented was a rerun of the NNUF materials with of course, more reference to the Thames situation. I must say, though, that this time the EA presenters did try not to just read through their previously provided material but to give what proved to be good summaries. The overview of Thames work being undertaken now and in the near future was particularly impressive and it is clear that the additional funding provided was being well used.

Of special interest to me was the presentation by the MD of District Enforcement, the car-parking company awarded (in somewhat odd and non-user consulted) circumstances, the contact to monitor and then enforce short-term moorings on the majority of EA’s Thames’ sites. The give-away for me was one of his written statements that an aim and objective of the contract was to “increase the number of enforcement actions, particularly the service of Mooring Charge Notices”. Of course, this does reflect the nature of the contract in that DE makes its income from this work primarily through user “fines” for overstaying. When I queried this as a “prime objective” of the contract I was told by the chair that the EA feels that it was quite appropriate to operate a car-parking approach to their moorings, and if users chose to overstay, then the proposed charges were fully acceptable.

In truth, to my surprise, I appeared to be one of few user representatives who were concerned about this matter and I can only conclude that most Thames users are happy with this approach?

Mike Rodd