Parry has his own reshuffle after shedding two directors in four months

November 2017 - After parting company with Sophie Castell as marketing, communications and fundraising director, the Canal & River Trust has now also said goodbye to Ian Rogers, as customer services and operations director and effective head of boating – seemingly matching the Prime Minister in shedding cabinet ministers – but Richard Parry has avoided a reshuffle by redistributed their roles amongst the remaining seven directors, writes Peter Underwood.

At the same time he has lost two waterways managers with Wendy Capelle, North Wales and Borders Waterway Manager retiring and Vicky Martin, South East Waterway Manager has just gone to take up a job as Head of Visitor Attraction Strategy for Welsh Water.

There will be no external recruitment to replace her, instead, an internal appointment made by way of secondment. She told her Waterway Partnership this in September and it has led to speculation that Richard Parry has been told that he has to make new appointments from within and cut staff at all levels, with redundancies now being openly discussed.

The departure of Ian Rogers with no indication whether he fell or was pushed comes just three years after his appointment as 'our first permanent head of customer services'. This was described as a 'new role supporting the our 10-year strategy to create stronger connections between us and the millions of people who use and enjoy our waterways each year'.

Ian, whose background was purely commercial, assumed direct responsibility for leisure boating, licensing and enforcement, and Richard Parry said at the time: “Ian’s role will be vital in making these essential changes that will put our customers at the centre of our operation.”

Of course, Ian's departure comes after the debacle of the completely unnecessary licensing consultation, with change of consultants two thirds of the way through the process, and growing disillusion among boaters, not least about Ian's communication failures.

Rogers has made the mistake of not engaging with boaters preferring to hide behind a Head of Boating and an interim Head of Boating who also failed to engage.

Blunders include:

- Announcing to the board that they were going to do web-chats last year but failing to inform that these did not take place.
- The licence consultation - hiding behind third parties and ignoring what stage 1 and 2 were telling them,
- Misleading on minimum safety standards and not coming clean on failure to meet those standards.

However Richard Parry has handed the boating role as a part-time job for Chief Operating Officer Julie Sharman, a civil engineer. As Chief Operating Officer she will be accountable for 'all day-to-day operations, performance and service delivery, and for local engagement through the Trust’s waterway teams'. Julie Sharman had been director of asset management since 2016. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that communication with boaters has just moved further down the list of priorities.

There have been other changes to responsibilities. Stuart Mills, the only survivor from British Waterways, becomes Chief Investment Officer, responsible for the Trust’s main income streams including charitable fundraising. Oddly, museums will also come under Stuart’s responsibility.

Heather Clarke, Strategy and Planning director becomes Strategy, Impact and Engagement Director, taking on Sophie Castell's responsibility for brand, marketing and public affairs, in addition to her current responsibilities.

Simon Bamford becomes Asset Improvement Director, responsible for delivering the Trust’s long-term asset programmes – both through the Trust’s Direct Services teams and its contractors.

Mike Gooddie becomes People Director and Sandra Kelly remains as Finance Director, with no change to the scope of their roles.

All of them earn between £130,000 and £220,000 a year plus pensions and other allowances and the departure of two members of the team should give at least £260,000 for Mr Parry to reallocate. However, as the annual report avoids specifying which directors are paid what, we will have no way of knowing whether it has been spread out amongst the remaining seven or spent elsewhere.

According to chief executive Richard Parry, this if all part of the further glorification and improvement of the C&RT leadership. He said: “In the first five years of the Trust we have made great progress and have much to be proud of, thanks to the work of our people and to the excellent support we’ve had from our partners, and all those who value and care for our great inland waterways.”

Sensibly, given current problems, he also sounds a note of caution: “As we look ahead, we need also to acknowledge that there is much more to do, with an exciting opportunity to expand on our progress to date, and a critical need to address the significant risks that we still face.”

Photos: (1st)Richard Parry, (2nd) Ian Rogers, (3rd) Sophie Castell, (4th) Julie Sharman, (5th) Heather Clarke, (6th) Mike Goodie, (7th) Sandra Kelly, (8th) Simon Bamford, (9th) Stuart Mills,

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