Failing Partnership Chairs reappointed

June 2018 - Last Sunday the Floater said
'Don’t forget the reorganisation'
. pointing out that C&RT's new 'super region' structure had quietly gone live without five of its six Regional Directors in place. We added 'Worse still, despite running down its Waterways Partnerships in favour of Regional Advisory Boards and advertising in the Sunday Times in January, C&RT has gone live with its new 'super regions’ having failed to appoint a single new chair.'

Within 24 hours the Trust issued a press release claiming that it had now appointed two new Regional Advisory Board (RAB) chairs and was retaining two former Waterways Partnership chairs who would now become RAB chairs. Two positions, RAB chair for West Midlands and Yorkshire & North East remain unfilled.

Co-incidence? Very unlikely for several reasons. Allan Richards lifts the lid on C&RT's hurried announcement and the appointments.

Back in January, The Floater highlighted that C&RT had advertised in the Sunday Times (and nowhere else) that it wanted to recruit four RAB chairs. We speculated that this was because it had already earmarked two people for RAB chair positions. As reported at the time the advert failed to state -

- the geographical areas for the vacancies.

- if local boards will be expected to raise funds.

- the amount of time per month that needs to be given to perform the role of chair.

- the existence of Waterway Partnerships and any need for continuity in Waterway Partnership projects.

We added 'With regard to continuity, there is no evidence that C&RT now wishes existing Waterway Partnerships to make a formal handover to Regional Advisory Boards. Indeed, the evidence points the other way.'

This remained the situation up until C&RT's 22 March board meeting. The previous day the Trustees held a 'farewell dinner' for outgoing Waterways Partnership chairs. However, a minute of the 22 March meeting states 'The Chair [Allan Leighton] noted that the outgoing Partnership Chairs were keen to do a proper handover and asked management to put in place a template for doing this, including the opportunity for outgoing chairs to meet their successors.' The action was allocated to C&RT's chief executive, Richard Parry.

So as of 22 March there was absolutely no indication that C&RT would retain chairs from its failed Waterways Partnerships as RAB chairs.

From the above, it would appear that Sir William Atkinson (London and South East Region) and Anil Majithia (East Midlands) were the ones already earmarked for RAB chairs and that the Sunday Times advert failed to provide the other four.

​But what about Walter Menzies? C&RT's press release states that he was former chair of the Trust’s Manchester, Pennine & Potteries Waterway Partnership and is now chair of the Waterways Advisory Board for the North West. How did his old Waterway Partnership Perform?

Needless to say, the Manchester, Pennine & Potteries Waterway Partnership Ten Year strategic plan produced in 2014 can not be found on C&RT's website and search on C&RT's calendar fails to show any meetings being held.

As far as can be determined (from a Freedom of Information request) Walter Menzies old Waterways Partnership last held a meeting over a year ago on May 11 2017, but failed to produce minutes.

C&RT also says that they hold no record of this Partnership ever producing a three year strategic plan which should have included details of the projects that it would undertake and how (and where) they would obtain the funds for those projects.

Perhaps it is little wonder that NABO's chair, Stella Ridgway, on hearing of Walter Menzies new appointment posted on facebook: 'Ffs, not Walter Menzies, about as much use as a chocolate fireguard'

As to David Hagg, things are slightly better. C&RT have removed South Wales & Severn Waterways Partnerships Ten Year Plan from its website. A search of C&RT's meetings calendar show no meetings held. Information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act suggests that the South Wales and Severn Waterways Partnership last met on 19 July 2017.

Unlike Walter Menzies partnership, minutes were produced. Hagg's Partnership actually managed to produce a Three Year Action Plan. However, it failed to produce details of the funding needed for its projects and where this would be obtained.

One peculiarity of David Haggs reappointment is that C&RT seemingly do not know the names of its new regions.

C&RT's announcement stated he was to be chair of South West & Wales Regional Advisory Board. Later that was corrected to South West Regional Advisory Board. However, C&RT's website clearly shows that the name of the new 'super region' is Wales and South West.

It appears that the hurried press release failed to explain that Wales & South West Region will also have a separate Welsh Advisory Board - Bwrdd Glandŵr Cymru.

Some years ago, the All Party Parliamentary Group for Waterways suggested that Waterways Partnerships should have clarity of purpose and be self funding. C&RT's response was to produce Ten Year Strategic Plans and Three Year Action Plans in conjunction with each partnership.

C&RT's trustees were told by very three senior managers that Waterway Partnerships had been left in no doubt that they must raise the funds for projects defined in plans. The Trust now admits that Waterways Partnerships did not manage to raise a single penny.

Despite this failure two of those senior managers were awarded directorships. ... and now two failing Waterway Partnership chairs are reappointed to chair Waterway Partnerships, albeit under a different name.

As to clarity of purpose, here is how C&RT now define the role of its renamed Waterway Partnerships -

- Provide ‘Reach’ – utilise local knowledge, ideas and capacity to build new relationships, including to enable more people to use and enjoy the waterways; actively seek to ‘reach’ the diverse local communities that the Trust serves.

- Act Local – translate national priorities into local initiatives, feeding into the Trust’s integrated business planning process.

- Advise – inform the Trust’s strategic planning and thinking, help the Trust remain relevant by proactively gathering and feeding back on local ‘outside world’ priorities, opportunities and risks.

- Connect and Influence – identify, engage with and enable access (‘open doors’) to relevant local and regional decision-makers and policy formers, across all sectors; broaden the Trust’s engagement with local ‘power bases’; help the Trust grow its supporter base, including helping to raise awareness of the Trust in the local community.

- Be Pioneering/Pathfinding – identify and trial new ways of delivering Trust ambitions and priorities and meeting objectives.

Anybody any clearer?

Photos: (1st) Sir William Atkinson (London and South East Region), (2nd) Anil Majithia (East Midlands), (3rd) Walter Menzies, former chair of the Trust’s Manchester, Pennine & Potteries Waterway Partnership, (4th) David Hagg, former chair of South Wales & Severn Waterways Partnership, (5th) Regional Advisory Boards terms of reference, (6th) No trace of meetings could be found.

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