Waterway Partnerships in disarray - one failed to publish any minutes for 18 months

December 2017 - In September, The Floater asked 'Waterways Partnerships - success or failure?' Now Allan Richards takes a more detailed look, concentrating on one of the failing Waterway Partnerships - East Midlands who are no longer meeting.

Back in September it was stated that many Waterway Partnerships (WP's) were no longer publishing minutes or notes of meetings. According to WP's terms of reference (last revised January 2014), meetings will be held no less than four times per annum with notices and agenda issued seven days prior to the meeting.

C&RT provides, via the local regional team, a secretariat service who work in conjunction with the WP chair. This service includes agreeing meeting dates and venues, issue meeting agendas and providing a written record of all meetings which, once approved, will be publicly available on the website.

Taking the above into account, one has to query why so few minutes have been published in 2017 and why action was not taken immediately when The Floater brought this shortcoming to public attention.

In the event, it took a request under the Freedom of Information Act on 1 October to compel C&RT to publish the missing minutes. It also asked for minutes of any meetings not showing on the calendar as it had been noted that East Midlands apparently not met this year.

The request pointed out that the Trust had only published 7 minutes for the 27 meetings appearing in its calendar for the first half of the 2017/18 financial year (March - September inclusive). It also pointed out that C&RT had failed to publish any minutes whatsoever for seven of its ten WP's!screen

Over the first three weeks of October, C&RT started to put the missing minutes on its meetings calendar and finally responded to the request on 24 November saying all minutes were now on its website with the exception of two for Kennet & Avon which were attached to the response.

It has to be said that that three minutes for North East WP look suspiciously like they have been produced after the information request was made by cloning the meetings agenda and then adding to it. C&RT claim that two other North East meetings did not take place because they were 'visits only'. However, all five agendas show that these events were combined meetings and visits.

Perhaps, the secondment of Waterway Manager, Jon Horsfall as interim Head of Boating is responsible for the lack of minute or note taking ...

However, it is the failure of C&RT to produce minutes for East Midlands waterways that causes greater concern. Despite information requests, the fact is that C&RT have failed to publish any minutes for this partnership since 10 May 2016.

No minutes for the meeting shown in the calendar (below) for 12 July 2016, no minutes for 13 September 2016 and no minutes for 8 November 2016. ... and no meetings or minutes showing in the calendar for 2017.

Perhaps little wonder then, that we don't have an agenda, notes, minutes or presentation slides for this meeting either. What we do have, instead, is a photo of 15 finalists in the East Midlands Waterside Hospitality Awards - 2017 who received awards at the meeting.

Photos: (1st) Waterside hospitality awards picture took the place of minutes, (2nd) Calendar, (3rd) Danny Brennan, East Midlands Chair - no minutes for 18 months, (4th) East Midlands meeting search, bizarrely, the calender shows that after publishing no minutes for 18 months, an Annual Partnership Meeting (APM) took place on 15 November.

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