The Floater February 2017

Crowd-fund a canal link to the Lakes

February 2017 - Frank Sanderson looks at the efforts of a determined canal restorer and the tremendous impact he is having in the North West of England.

Colin Ogden is one of those enthusiasts who embody the spirit of the early canal restorers back in the 1950s and 60s when authority was there to be challenged.

He is determined to see the abandoned Northern Reaches of the Lancaster Canal restored.

RCR boss attacks London boaters

February 2017 - Peter Underwood looks at attacks on London boaters by a canal business and local people.

A diatribe by Stephanie Horton, the boss of River Canal Rescue (RCR), which offers a mobile repair service for boaters and an angry letter from a resident of trendy Islington shows some of the pressures now being experienced by London's liveaboard boaters.

Stephanie Horton decided to jump on the bandwagon of claims by some locals that London’s infrastructure was unable to cope with the increasing number of people living on boats.

Photo-opportunities and making the most of maintenance

February 2017 - Peter Underwood looks at the most recent public relations campaigns by the Canal & River Trust's spin doctors and attempts to remove the spin.

Providing Government ministers with photo-opportunities and using the occasion to lobby them to ensure both that funding continues to flow and any future legislation is framed the way you want it, is key to the future of any charity and the Canal & River Trust in particular.

Arts and craft on the towpath

February 2017 - By Peter Underwood

The Floater takes a look at canal traders – people creating businesses on our canals and rivers. Their numbers are increasing almost daily and the chances are you will see a floating market or a sole trader on the canal at most times of the year. As Peter Underwood reports, our latest traders bring both art and craft to the towpath.

The canals seem to attract those with an artistic eye and people who have an affinity with nature and Morgan and Sue and Sue have created businesses based on both on board their purpose built boat Sunbeam.

All change for C&RT boat licences?

February 2017 - The announcement of a shake-up of C&RT licences will open a can of worms, predicts Peter Underwood.

Despite the strange departure this Easter of Mike Grimes, Canal & River Trust’s Head of Boating, the organisation has decided to plough ahead with an attempt to change the way boats are licensed.

It is a decision that could easily result in bitter disputes between the charity and various boating groups.​

Still not enough ‘Friends’ income for C&RT

February 2017 - Allen Richards investigates

Since the monthly target for the number of paying ‘Friends’ recruited was published in the last annual report the pressure on Chief Executive Richard Parry and fundraising director Sophie Castell is very public – but Allan Richards has been looking at the numbers and it seems targets are still being missed by a mile.​

C&RT has confirmed that it will miss its latest target of having 22,500 ‘Friends’ (regular donors) at the end of its current financial year (2016/17).

C&RT's contradictory statements on lock safety

February 2017 - Allan Richards looks in more detail at the contradictory statements being made by the Canal & River Trust about the safety of the Bank Newton locks on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal – now the subject of intense scrutiny after the charity settled - out of court and at considerable expense - a case brought against them by Ken Churchill after his vessel sank in lock 40 on the flight.

C&RT contracts get longer and larger

February 2017 - Peter Underwood looks at the way work and skills are contracted out by C&RT in ever bigger contracts running for much longer periods.

Replacing skilled staff with contractors is a process that started with British Waterways and has continued under the Canal & River Trust- who have gone a step further by amalgamating contracts so that large swathes of expertise are completely dependent upon a single contractor.

Where's the magic of a couple of weeks in a tin box?

February 2017 - Peter Underwood looks at what makes a boater in the second of a a series of articles looking at getting afloat (Published as an e-book on Amazon 'Getting Afloat' by Peter Underwood and first published in Towpath Talk.

British hire-boat firms attract customers from around the world to spend a week or two in a steel box, crawling along a ditch sometimes only twice as wide as the boat – and they come back over and over again and even buy boats themselves – so where is the magic?

Lock safety battle goes back to HSE

February 2017 - Peter Underwood looks at the latest developments in one boater's fight to improve lock safety on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Elland Bridge reopening didn't please everyone

February 2017 - Peter Underwood looks at a little local spat over a major piece of reconstruction.

Return from the Lanky - and a rescue - VIDEOS

February 2017 - Peter Underwood recalls an expedition to the northern waters of the Lancashire Canal.

If the route north through the Bridgewater Canal is cleared in time, many more boaters will be planning to make the crossing of the Ribble Estuary to take a look at the Lanky. About three years ago we made the trip and I made a few videos about the preparation needed, the crossing, the canal and the return journey.

In addition I looked at the un-restored Northern Reaches which have since been adopted by a nerw group of enthusiasts led by Colin Ogden.

Did C&RT's Head of Boating fall or was he pushed?

February 2017 - Allan Richards looks at the departure of C&RT's Head of Boating and the messy court case that may have a role in his exit.

Some speculation has been caused by the sudden announcement that Mike Grimes, C&RT’s Head of Boating, will leave at Easter having ‘regrettably decided to step down’.
Has he jumped or was he pushed? This speculation is increased by the revelation that he has not left to take up a position elsewhere but “plans to take some time off over the summer to decide on his next challenge”.

What will be left of C&RT?

February 2017 - Allan Richards and Peter Underwood have been looking at the Canal & River Trust's steady abandonment of in house skills and expertise to external contractors.

How long will it be before the Canal & River Trust is simply a shell organisation with only managers and volunteers working directly for the business and every important function and skill outsourced to contractors?

From a gongoozler on the bank to a boater on the water

February 2017 - Peter Underwood looks at what makes a boater in the first of a a series of articles looking at getting afloat (Published as an e-book on Amazon 'Getting Afloat' by Peter Underwood and first published in Towpath Talk.

Paddington Basin gets a floating park

February 2017 - Peter Underwood reports on the latest plans for Paddington Basin

Anyone who hoped to see the far end of Paddington Basin – closed off for several years by a 'fan' bridge – opened up for mooring after a floating market was held there last year is to be disappointed.

C&RT's financial protector report surfaces

February 2017 - By Allen Richards

Whenever the Canal & River Trust goes quiet about something it is a pretty sure sign all is not well and Allan Richards has had to make a Freedom of Information request followed by request for a review when refused, before a key independent report on C&RT finances saw the light of day.

Windlass Do's and Don'ts - VIDEO

February 2017 - Sue Cawson, a lifetime boater, liveaboard and owner of an historic boat, as well as a member of C&RT's Navigation Committee and a stalwart of the Historic Narrowboat Owners Club reckons she knows a thing or two about boating and argues that traditional techniques can be adapted for modern boating.

So we have challenged her to produce some bite sized bits of advice and a few months ago she wrote about the simple issue of windlasses.

Bridgewater Canal boss speaks

February 2017 - Peter Underwood has been looking at what some see as a highly autocratic approach to running the historic Bridgewater Canal

Since Peter Parkinson took over as General Manager of the Bridgewater Canal two years ago boaters have seen costs more than triple for liveaboards, aggressive enforcement has been reported, a reciprocal agreement with the Canal & River Trust has been torn up and a long stoppage has been imposed closing the vital north-south route well into late Spring this year.

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