Contractors endanger our future say boaters

March 2017 - Peter Underwood looks at boaters' reaction to the massive contracts handed out by the Canal & River Trust at the start of the year.

It seems boaters are not as fond of contractors working on our waterways as the Canal & River Trust. Nearly nine out of ten think contractors are a threat to the future of the waterways.

Back in February we asked how long would 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?

That was after a 10 year contract for all dredging was handed over to a single contractor at a predicted cost of £60-70m and the Trust handing over all mechanical and electrical work on its historic canals and rivers to AMCO Ltd.

It seems the vast majority of boaters are also concerned that any expertise in canals and boating will disappear from C&RT, with contractors doing all the skilled work and volunteers taking on key roles such as lock-keeping and other maintenance.

Some businesses might be concerned that they were reliant on a single contractor as competition is generally seen as the way to get the best value but C&RT management insists: “By consolidating the works into a single contract over the longer term, it provides opportunity for a better return on investment, therefore providing a more cost effective solution for the Trust.”

The Floater published a poll giving boaters a chance to have their say.

We asked: “Do you think it benefits our waterways if contractors are the sole source of skills?

Just under 14 per cent of those who responded thought it did benefit the waterways while nearly 87 per cent said 'No it risks our future'.

One reader, Doug Flory, commented that he was “working for a company that uses a lot of contractors instead of in house staff to do work.”

“The cost is higher and the standard of work is lower. Contractors do not provide value for money and tend to do work to a poorer standard so as to increase profits for their shareholders.”

Photos: (1st) The Floater poll result for the question "Do you feel it benefits our waterways if contractors are the sole source of skills?", (2nd) dredging in progress.

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