The Floater July 2017

Should it be the Canal, Docks & River Trust?

July 2017 - Canal & River Trust tells us at every opportunity that it owns 2,000 miles of waterways – but there's more, lots more, as Peter Underwood has been learning.

A combination of history and governmental convenience means that some of the country's famous, historic docks and ports are a key part of the Canal and River Trust's operations, and they play a financial role in keeping the charity afloat.

C&RT's Annual Report: Spin v facts

July 2017 - C&RT's launch of of its Annual Report on 24 July, some 12 weeks after its financial year end, is a drab affair. In previous years we have been treated to web pages filled with multicoloured charts and graphs. This year we have just a monochrome press release which attempts to deflect from the Trust's failures by concentrating on supposed successes over its first five years. Allan Richards unspins a small sample of the more fanciful claims by reference to C&RT's Annual Report, previous Annual Reports and published board papers.

The blame game backfires

July 2017 - A tendency for the Canal & River Trust to blame anything other than poor maintenance for stoppages on the canal system has not gone unnoticed by boaters, as Peter Underwood reports.

A stoppage notice from C&RT that says: “We are sorry but the lock gates are broken because we didn't get around to doing essential maintenance work, even though we knew about the problem” would be an amazing piece of honesty.

Instead stoppages are blamed on 'vandalism', 'boat collision' or 'water resources' – anything but the failure to make repairs when needed.

Has peace broken out on the Lanky?

July 2017 - In one of the few pieces of positive news to come from the Lancaster Canal it seems the Canal & River Trust has agreed to Colin Ogden and his fast-growing Owd Lanky Boaters Group adopting an abandoned lock flight, Peter Underwood reports.

The Trust seems to have acknowledged that Colin Ogden's Owd Lanky Boaters Group is an active and effective restoration body on the Lancaster Canal by agreeing it can adopt the first lock flight of the abandoned Northern Reaches at Tewitfield and Colin has praised the Trust's swift response.

Can Bolton get back it's town centre canal?

July 2017 - Plans for a multi-million pound development in Bolton have brought the founder of the Manchester Bolton and Bury Canal Society into conflict with its current chair – as Peter Underwood reports.

Steven Parker, who founded the Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal Society in 1987, says that plans to regenerate Church Wharf could be fatal to his dream of seeing the canal restored to its former glory, putting an end to any hopes of bringing a canal back to Bolton town centre.

C&RT removes Pontcysyllte photos

July 2017 - Canal & River Trust's fifth birthday has come and gone with no fanfare. Even C&RT's marketing department, never short of a spurious story on such occasions, has remained silent. No self congratulation or stories with titles such as 'Our achievements - year by year'. Just silence. Allan Richards has been reviewing the major launch story from five years ago.

Property developers face fight from boaters and rockers over canal pub site

July 2017 - Developers planning to put no fewer than 80 flats on a canalside site in central Birmingham may find themselves up against a coalition of boaters and music fans, Peter Underwood reports.

Whitehorse Estates Ltd and Baskerville Wharf, a Private Limited Partnership, want to knock down the Flapper Pub, alongside Cambrian Wharf and replace it with a block of flats. They own the lease on the land from Birmingham City Council and are currently attempting to persuade local residents to back their plans by staging an exhibition of their planning proposal.

River Lea boaters to lose out to rowing clubs?

July 2017 - A Canal & River Trust London Mooring Ranger is proposing new restrictions that may see current mooring spaces removed on the lower part of the River Lea, writes Alec Wood.

The C&RT official has written a proposal outlining the removal of boats in places where the navigation is less than 18 metres (nearly 60 ft).

C&RT claims this is to aid rowers from two rowing clubs on the River Lea, although the current proposal would only affect the river near the Lea Rowing Club who use the stretch between Old Ford Lock in Hackney Wick and Tottenham Hale Lock.

Shambolic and misleading' consultation claim as boaters fall out

July 2017 - The Canal & River Trust's consultation on changes in boat licensing has just completed it's second stage and is already being condemned as misleading and unfair by liveaboard boaters although the Trust and its IWA allies seem happy, as Peter Underwood reports.

The licensing consultation was always going to be divisive but, before it is even complete it has come under attack from the National Bargee Travellers Association (NBTA). It has made a formal complaint that the consultation is 'shambolic and misleading'.

Boat buy-to-let and rent-to-buy services take rental to a new level

July 2017 - Boater Paul Morris, who describes himself as Captain of LifeAfloat and gives his address as Coventry Canal, West Midlands, has launched a website designed to facilitate and encourage the rental of liveaboard boats and even buying boats to let them out, as Peter Underwood reports.

His new website has been launched hard on the heels of a Canal & River Trust crackdown on boat rentals and the introduction of a new static boat rental licence, as well as the promise to remove licences from boats rented out without the new licence.

Now 36 defects per mile of C&RT waterway

July 2017 - Canal & River Trust has confirmed that its maintenance backlog, as measured by the number of outstanding defects, rose by 15 per cent in its last financial year, Allan Richards reports.

The Trust has given the number of outstanding defects at 1 April 2016 as 62,397 and and a revised figure for 1 April 2017 as 72,026. That's a increase of about 10,000 or 15 per cent in 12 months. Put another way, the Trust now has 36 defects for each mile of waterway.

NBTA to challenge Environment Agency letters

July 2017 - Last year and this has seen the Environment Agency attempting to crack down on overstaying boats using public mooring sites on the Thames and the National Bargee Travellers' Association is attempting to work out what's happening, as Alec Wood reports.

The Thames is a hotch-potch of private, council and Environment Agency (EA) moorings that means boaters rarely know whether they will be charged for a night's mooring but in the last two years both local authorities and the EA have been trying get rid of liveaboard boaters in certain areas.

Lancaster Canal Trust squeezed out?

July 2017 - Lost in the battle of wills between North West Waterways Manager Chantelle Seaborn and those like Colin Ogden, who want to see swift restoration of the Lancaster Canal's Northern Reaches are the existing volunteers of the Lancaster Canal Trust, who find themselves without a role, as Peter Underwood reports.

C&RT receptive to more London facilities

July 2017 - The minutes of a meeting about facilties for boaters in London, between a National Bargee Travellers delegation led by Marcus Trower and a group led by Matthew Symonds, C&RT's boating strategy and engagement manager have finally emerged three months later, as Peter Underwood reports.

Marcus Trower and the National Bargee Travellers Association (NBTA) in London have long been arguing that the Trust needed to keep existing water points, elsan disposals and rubbish bins in better order and invest in more.

Don't boat and booze – Trust bids to curb drinking

July 2017 - Sometimes the disconnect between authoritarian organisations and real life – and even the decisions of other parts of the same organisation – are a little bizarre, as Peter Underwood reports.

Just weeks after Canal & River Trust was hailing the arrival of the first, plastic, day boats in central London, and boaters were expressing serious doubts about inexperienced, drunken crews on the capitals busy waterways, the Trust is finger-wagging about drinking and boating.

C&RT unable to name single working group member

July 2017 - Having previously offered to put our Allan Richards in contact with a member of a working group set up to look at the results of the 2016 Boat Owners’ Survey, Canal & River Trust now says it is unable to provide that persons name.

In fact, as Allan reports, the Trust is now unable to provide names of any members of the group. The U-turn follows a further information request.

Chantelle's comic book capers

July 2017 - North West Waterways Manager Chantelle Seaborn and the recently revived Lancaster Canal Regeneration Partnership have come up with their latest response to the runaway success of Colin Ogden and his 1,000 strong Owd Lanky Boaters Group, as Peter Underwood reports.

Following on from spending thousands on appointing a public relations consultant at hundreds of pounds a day and then recycling a plan for a walking route along the Lancaster Canal the latest spiffing wheeze from Chantelle and her merry band is ….. a comic book.

Monty Festival looks for traders

July 2017 - The Montgomery Canal is, perhaps, one of the most remote canals with real potential as a tourist success. Sadly it remains unrestored for much of it's length there are those trying to raise its profile as Alec Wood reports.

The Montgomery has been chopped into short lengths by council road 'improvements' within living memory and, whilst sections have been restored, and money promised both sides of the English-Welsh border it remains stubbornly broken.

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