Did C&RT really spend £80m on restoration last year?

November 2017 - Canal & River Trust has finally confirmed that it is to spend £7m less this winter in maintaining the waterways entrusted to it, but the mystery that remains is another £80m allegedly spent on 'restoration' as Allan Richards reports.

C&RT's admission follows a Floater article quoting press releases detailing spend during the winter period for the last four years (C&RT boasts of maintenance spend – but it's down £7 million this winter).

Following publication of the article, C&RT again referred to this years £38m spend in Boaters Update. We posted on C&RT's boating Facebook page:

'This Boaters Update repeats a press release which says -

This month sees the start of a five-month long programme of repairs as we spend £38 million to restore some of the nation’s best loved sites ...

However, in previous years C&RT has spent £45 million (as confirmed by various press releases and a previous Boaters Update).

Why is the Trust spending £7 million less this year?'

Two weeks later - no response!

A request was also made under the Freedom of Information Act for additional information. This has been acknowledged but, so far, no response.

However, a response has been received from the contact point for the press release, Sarah Burns (C&RT Campaigns Manager).

Sarah was asked to provide an explanation concerning the £7m gap. Her 'early next week' reply did not arrive until late on Wednesday that week.

The person that actually provided the response forwarded by Sarah is not named. They confirmed that C&RT is spending £7m less this year over the winter period compared to last year (£38m vs £45m). The reason given for the reduction of spend was 'due to a change in the timing of significant works which saw a planned increased spend in the first six months of 2017'.

The un-named source also suggested that C&RT's total spend on maintenance over the year is £74mm, slightly up on the previous year (£73m).

With C&RT directors having claimed, in the past, that C&RT needs to spend between £105m and £130m a year on maintaining its waterways, one has to query why the £74m figure is so low.

One also has to query C&RT's 2016/17 annual report. Page 76 reads 'Waterway restoration, maintenance and repairs £152.5m'. The difference between the annual report and the figure of £74m given by Sarah Burns' source is about £80m.

Did C&RT spent £80m on restoration? It would seem that C&RT's figures regarding maintenance spend on its waterways are as credible as its visitor figures.

We now await a response on the difference between the £73m and £152.5m ...

Photos: (1st) The Facebook post that didn't get a reply, (2nd) No response to FoI request, (3rd) Sarah Burns, who did manage to get an answer of sorts.

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