Tell us what you think – but you'll have to guess

August 2017 - Already condemned by one vociferous boating group as 'shambolic and misleading' the Canal & River Trust's review of boat licensing isn't impressing other boaters as Allan Richards reports:

Canal & River Trust met with its Navigation Advisory Group (NAG) in late July to consider the results of stage 1 & 2 of the National Review of Boat Licensing. However it refused to allow NAG representatives to see the results of the second stage of the consultation

C&RT confirmed what many boaters suspected - the majority of workshops were poorly attended and the only proposal having wide support was charging on boat area rather than by length.

There was agreement amongst NAG attendees that licensing should not be used to control congestion.

For stage 1 & 2 of the consultation, C&RT employed Involve, an independent charity specialising in public engagement. Stage 1, which started back in February consisted, of telephone interviews with representatives from boating organisations to get feedback on what the consultation should cover. Stage 2 which ran from April, consisted of series nine in-depth boater workshops, hosted by Involve.

According to C&RT, 988 boaters expressed an interest in the 135 stage 2 workshop places. Although attendees commented on low attendance at the first meeting and were told it would be looked into, attendance continued to be poor.

In October 2016, NAG told C&RT it needed to 'Be clear about what the drivers are for reviewing boat licensing.'

C&RT subsequently published its justification. '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system has remained largely unchanged for more than two decades and is often cited by boat owners as being complex and out of date.' However, they later admitted that they held held 'no recorded information that would support the assertion that boaters were telling them that the current system was 'complex and out of date.'

Leaving aside the lack of clarity surrounding the 'drivers' for the review, the Trust has also done itself no favours introducing a new licence for boat renting part way through. Why did they not include it in the review and wait to find out what boaters thought about the matter?

However, it seems that they have now surpassed these two cock-ups by not allowing NAG to see the stage 2 Involve report before commenting on it. As one NAG attendee put it 'Full details of the report from Involve were not available.'

The same attendee, NABO's Mark Tizard, added: “This is beginning to look like a hugely expensive exercise to achieve an end result that CRT could have easily proposed at the outset.

“All boaters can expect an email to enable them to give their views in the next couple of months. It would not be a surprise if the option of a two-tier charging between those who have a home mooring and those without was included under pressure from other waterways representative bodies.”

Perhaps these 'waterways representative bodies' (believed to be IWA, RBOA and, perhaps, AWCC) would like to explain why their proposals were not supported by boaters attending workshops.

Photos: (1st) What C&RT claimed but couldn't back up, (2nd) IWA's bid to divide CCers and moored boaters, (3rd) What NAG told C&RT.

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