Lies, damned lies and C&RT excuses ...

April 2017 - Unfortunately the Canal & River Trust seems to have difficulty with the telling “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth,” as is demanded of court witnesses and Allan Richards has been examining its claim that boaters have been telling the Trust that the current licence system is “complex and out of date.”

Announcing its plans for another shake-up of the rules for boats C&RT claims it ‘aims to ask boaters the fairest and simplest way to split the important financial contribution made by the different types of boats and boaters towards the upkeep of the waterways’.

The twofold justification for the review is given as ‘The current licensing system has remained largely unchanged for more than two decades and is often cited by boat owners as being complex and out of date’.

But are boaters really complaining that C&RT’s licensing is complex and out of date? (The Floater – C&RT licence – boaters in conflict).

Let’s take these in order. C&RT were asked for ‘Details of the 'major change' that was made to the licensing system over two decades ago together with the date’.

Replying on behalf of C&RT, Andy Glyde, Governance, Assurance & Risk Manager, gave the last major change as the 1995 British Waterways Act. However, the 1995 Act does not change boater’s financial contribution which is the stated objective of the review.

The fact is that C&RT and BW before it consult on and change licensing with monotonous regularity, as pointed out on Facebook by Simon Robbins, former vice chair of the National Association of Boat Owners –

June 2013 - Reforming Business Boating Licensing consultation
May 2012 - Houseboat consultation
2011 - Business Licences consultation
2011 - Boat Licences consultation
2009/10 - Payment Discounts consultation
2007 - Boat Licensing consultation
2005/6 - Shared ownership and continuous cruising consultation

C&RT, like BW before it, has also altered terms and conditions fairly regularly. The latest change was in the winter of 2015/16. Then there are C&RT policy and guidelines which also change frequently, as any Ccer will testify.

However, when asked what changes had been made to the licensing system since the major change over two decades ago, Mr Glyde somehow forgot to mention all but one of the above consultations despite them all resulting in changes.

He also conveniently forgot to mention changes to licence terms and conditions and C&RT’s licensing policy.

The facts make it clear that to suggest that the current licensing system has remained largely unchanged for two decades is completely false.

However C&RT is sure to be able to prove its assertion that boaters are often telling the Trust that licensing is ‘complex and out of date’.

C&RT were asked for ‘All information recorded during 2016 that supports your assertion that boat owners cite the current licensing system as being complex and out of date’.

Andy Glyde responded that that C&RT held no recorded information that would support the assertion made.

For anyone experiencing a feeling of déjà vu, C&RT’s reply is similar to that given during the South East Visitor Mooring Consultation in 2013. C&RT’s then Head of Boating, Sally Ash, claimed that the charity had received ‘a surprising number of complaints relating to failure to find space at visitor moorings’.

A request under the Freedom of Information Act found that this was totally untrue. The Trust eventually admitted that it was unable to provide any recorded information whatsoever regarding these complaints.

Ms Ash later stated that C&RT had received ‘grumbles but these had not been recorded’.

That is just about as believable as Mr Glyde’s explanation that C&RT’s assertion is based on ‘verbal communications and is therefore not held in a recorded format’.

Isn't it sad that C&RT continues to emulate British Waterways and is once again caught out attempting to mislead boaters?

Photos: (1st) The 2007 licencing review, (2nd) Changes from 2009-10, (3rd) Andy Glyde, Governance, Assurance & Risk Manager for C&RT.

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