Trust apologises for press release

December 2017 - The Canal & River Trust has apologised for a press release where it claimed it would spend £7m less this winter than in previous years (Did C&RT really spend £80m on restoration last year?). In response to an information request the trust now says that it got its figures wrong. Allan Richards explains.

To understand the Trusts response one has to go back to press releases for the last three of four years. Years which consistently claim a spend of £45 million during the five months 'winter works' period. Here are just a couple of examples -

In a press release marked Embargoed 00.01hours Tuesday 12th November 2013 and titled 'CAMDEN SETS THE SCENE FOR START OF MAJOR PROGRAMME OF WINTER CANAL REPAIRS', C&RT states 'This November, the Canal & River Trust begins a schedule of winter works to repair and restore hundreds of historic waterway structures including iconic lock flights and bridges, as part of its five-month, £45 million programme of work to look after 2,000 miles of canals and rivers across England and Wales.'

In a press release dated November 2015 titled 'WOLVERHAMPTON TOP LOCK TO RECEIVE £55,000 MAKEOVER', CART says - 'This November Canal & River Trust begin a five month, £4.2 million maintenance programme to canals and rivers across the West Midlands. As part of this restoration programme, which will see £45 millions spent on essential maintenance across England and Wales ...'

So five month period - £45 million spend ...

Now lets have a look at C&RT's 18 October 2017 press release - 'CHARITY SPENDS £38MILLION TO KEEP YOUR MUCH-LOVED WATERWAYS FLOWING.' This says - This November will see the start of a five-month-long-programme of repairs to England and Wales' waterways, as the charity, Canal & River Trust, spends £38million to restore some of the nations best loved sites.

So £7m less than in previous years ...

Now look at C&RT's response to a Freedom of Information Act request -

'Further to your request of 8th November and our subsequent acknowledgement of 10th November, I am writing to confirm that there was a mistake in the press release, it was meant to state that the £38 million spend was for a six month programme of repairs (October 2017 to March 2018 inclusive). The breakdown of figures is as follows: -

£36m - April 2017 to September 2017 (6 months)
£38m - October 2017 to March 2018 (6 months)
£74m - Total spend for 2017/18

As requested, please also see below the figures for the preceding 7 months. Apologies for the mistake and confusion we may have caused here.

£44 million - April 2017 to October 2017 (7 months)
£30 million - November 2017 to March 2018 (5 months)
£74m - Total spend for 2017/18'

You don't have to be much of a mathematician to figure out that C&RT's 'correction' to its 'mistake' means that it will spend £15 million less, rather than £7m less this winter ...

How can C&RT get it so wrong?

Photos: (1st) Press release 2013, (2nd) Press release 2015, (3rd) Freedom of In formation Act request, (4th) Trust response to FoI request.

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