Sunday, 30 October 2011

Boaters' Manifesto

Boaters Manifesto – 1st draft

This manifesto was compiled as the result of a request made on half a dozen boaters’ groups of Facebook (total membership around 2,500) and through various boaters’ networks on Twitter.
Boaters were asked to let the transition trustees know what they actually need from them so that they can respond to the new charity with enthusiasm and commitment.


Why the Canal and River Trust should listen to boaters

Navigable waterways were not only created for boats, they are only still with us today because boats and boaters found a new use for them as commercial traffic came to an end.
It has been boaters – not cyclists or walkers or fishermen – who have fought to reopen neglected canals in the face of official opposition; with British Waterways only jumping on the bandwagon in recent years.
Canals without boats don’t last very long for other users as there is no longer a reason to keep the unique industrial heritage in working order, the structures crumble, the water silts up and little is left. Waterways need boats as much as boats need waterways.
Boaters are the only group that has already made a substantial financial and personal commitment to the waterways as well as the only collection of individuals that pays substantial annual fees for their upkeep.
Boaters, especially those with many years of experience and those who live on their craft and travel widely on the system have a wealth of expertise that has been largely ignored by British Waterways and those who helped to compile this manifesto fear that the Canal and River Trust may continue this policy.
Most of all we would like to see many more experienced boaters, proper users of the system, taking a role at national and regional level than the current proposals suggest. Just five out of 35 at a national level is simply wrong.

Navigation

Boaters need navigations that are sufficiently well maintained to enable the vessels designed to use them to travel the whole length of those waterways at all times of the year and operate locks and other equipment with relative ease and safety.
Waterways must not be allowed to deteriorate through lack of maintenance and the Canal and River Trust must have sufficient contingency funds to deal with a major breach – on the scale of those on the Shropshire Union Canal the Monmouth and Breconshire Canal in recent years - without delay.
This means that sufficient government funding is a prerequisite for the Canal and River Trust and if the levels of funding do not fill the massive gap identified by the IWA, and the specialist waterways MPs group, the trustees should refuse to sanction the creation of the charity. It will not be enough to depend on optimistic projections of future charitable income and would be dangerous to do so.
We believe some of the financial projections offered by British Waterways and Defra are simply wrong and need to be tested far more critically than seems the case at present.

Management

Executive management
Boaters and many others have lost faith in the most senior levels of British Waterways’ management in recent years and almost all those who contributed to this manifesto want to see the current directors removed before the Canal and River Trust begins to run the system. Our concern centres on the enormously expensive pay, pension and perks packages of the most senior directors and their willingness to grab bonus payments when staff are being penalised by pay rise well under the rate of inflation.
Boaters do not believe the Canal and River Trust should be willing and will not be able to pay such large scale remuneration and feel that the removal of a group of directors who have little understanding of waterways or boats would do more to give the Trust a fresh start than any new logo.

Middle management
British Waterways’ workforce has become disconnected from the system it looks after. This is due to attempts to farm out much of the bankside and construction work to the cheapest available contractors, along with a policy that obliges the workforce to work in teams covering large areas.
Boaters would like to see visible individuals responsible for a particular stretch of waterway, with clear responsibilities and accountability in the event of failures.
We believe the skills of the workforce should be valued, encouraged and passed on, especially as caring for a 200 year old artefact requires special expertise. We would like to see work brought back in house and apprenticeships encouraged along the lines of those provided by the National Trust.

Mooring

Whatever else the Canal and River Trust does it will achieve most with most boaters if it applies the same rules on mooring to all parts of the waterways system and enforces them without fear or favour.
This does not exclude setting up special rules in hot-spot areas; but they should then be available for all hot-spots in the country that want to adopt them. We do not believe there is anything wrong with the current mooring guidelines but feel they must be applied equally and effectively across the country. Don’t make rules the Canal and River Trust can’t enforce.

Towpath issues.

Boaters do not mind sharing the towpaths with fishermen, walkers, cyclists and dogs – although we draw the line at motorised vehicles and horses.
We do believe it is essential the Canal and River Trust finds ways of ensuring all those users contribute to the costs of upkeep and abide by a national set of rules.
Once again enforcement will be the key to stopping dog fouling, rubbish and speeding cyclists putting lives at risk.
We would encourage the new Trust to get into schools, angling clubs, cycling, ramblers etc and educate them about the policies on the towpath, and about canals and waterways in general so we can all enjoy them


An open society?

The Canal and River Trust needs to be completely open with boaters and other supporters and we would urge Trustees to stop avoiding the inclusion of the charity in Freedom of Information legislation.
Given the sensitive existing issues over directors pay, commercial operations such as BWML, pub chains and property development it is essential that the Canal and River Trust’s supporters are able to assure themselves that the murky goings on under British Waterways are brought out into the open and that complete transparency is the rule as soon as the charity begins business.
The Canal and River Trust is vitally important to boaters. Other users can always find what they're looking for somewhere else, if the new trust is not up to scratch, their stake is minimal. If the canal system crumbles then where are all the boat users going to go?


Liveaboard boaters

The Canal and River Trust should endeavour to help those who live on their boats by the provision of more residential moorings where needed and perhaps usable postal addresses (BFPO can do it for the forces), recycling facilities, more potable water and sewage disposal points.
Those who live on the waterways system, several thousand people, should have specific representation on the board of the Trust.



ANYONE WANTING TO SUGGEST AMENDMENTS CAN DO SO HERE OR ON THE BOATERS’ MANIFESTO PAGE ON FACEBOOK OR THROUGH EMAILING ME AT PETERUNDERWOOD2@GMAIL.COM

26 comments:

Graham Phillips said...

Hi Peter. A fantastic piece of work - well done. I just think perhaps the mention of horses might be removed as I can see that upsetting a few boaters dedicted to horse boating but who are otherwise commited to the general cause. I think all MPs who have canals in their constituencies should be sent a copy of the final work.

susan campbell said...

I am a horse rider but feel the exclusion clause should be left in. When riders pick up after their horses it could be re-addressed! Towing horses could be allowed for independently.

Anonymous said...

I think the the manifesto is great. As liveaboard boaters,traders and continuous cruisers we have long felt that we are doubly cursed. We would like to see some reassurance that we will be allowed t live our travelling lifestyle. Our great6est concerns are that we will be forced to give up unrestricted travelling and/or that the licence fee will be significantly increased as soon as the new trust takes over. We also feel very strongly hat it is unfair that those of us who contribute most are rewarded with least. We require water to move in, not pretty towpaths.

John Dodwell said...

Your draft Boaters’ Manifesto interests me as I am one of the eight Canal & River Trust trustees. I also have a longstanding interest in the waterways (e.g. IWA General Secretary in the 70s) and 10 years ago finally bought a boat – a 51ft long 3 ft draft BCN historic tug. I’m not the only boat owning trustee – so is Lynne Berry (recently retired from running the WRVS – 65,000 volunteers).
I agree with you that waterways need boats as much as boats need waterways. The role of boat owners and others in saving the waterways is undisputed. I am sure the Trustees will want to read the final version of the Manifesto but I thought it might help if I made a few comments so the Manifesto can’t be faulted on its facts.
And as I want to do justice to your draft, I want to respond in detail. Sorry but that means three posts to keep within the max per post!
THE COUNCIL
The Trust’s Council – the top level in the Trust’s governance - needs a good representation of passionate and knowledgeable boat owners. Boat licence holders will have the biggest user representation (elected by licence holders). With two from boating businesses, boating representation on the Council will be seven – 20% of the 35 members. Another 13 will be the chairs of the Waterways Partnerships from around the country – and if you look at the people on the first Partnerships, you’ll detect about half have links to boats. The remaining 15 places include people from the Waterway Recovery Group, the Railway and Canal Historical Society and four in aggregate from walkers, anglers, cyclists etc. The composition of the Council will be reviewed after 3 years and there is a commitment to move to 50% being elected.
In addition, there will be a Navigation Committee to help the Trustees and the executive staff. And I encourage boat owners to get involved with the Waterway Managers and let them know – nicely! – when they find things are not right.
And I wonder if you are aware of the meetings between BW Executives (and non-executive directors) and the British Waterways Advisory Forum, made up of various national waterways groups; or of the Waterway Users Special Interest Groups meetings and meetings with the boat trade where views are exchanged?
MONEY
The Trustees are currently negotiating hard to get the right financial deal with Defra; this means increasing the £39m p.a. on offer. But Defra isn’t the only source of money. About £100m p.a. comes from other sources – split roughly equally between property rents; income from cables running under the towpath and water sales; and boats. Personally, I can’t see that the Government will fill the gap to the extent that everything is perfect and there is then no need to seek donations etc. Donations also need to be seen in context. If we were lucky enough to get to £7.5m p.a., that’s about 5% of the current £150m p.a. spent on the waterways. I know people say users who don’t pay should contribute – I see generating donations from the wider public as a way of spreading the load to some of the other 13m or so people who enjoy visiting the waterways.
You say you believe some of the financial projections are wrong. Can you help me by saying which ones you thinking of?
(continued on next post)

John Dodwell said...

(continued from 1st post)

MANAGEMENT
Sorry but getting rid of the current directors now – in the midst of much change – doesn’t make business sense to me. Let’s get the handover to CRT completed first!
As CRT is taking over all the obligations and duties of BW, it will take over the existing pay contracts of all staff (and anyway TUPE applies). Although you suggest tearing up existing contracts, I wonder how you’d feel if you were transferred to a new employer who changed your pay terms? So getting to the desired level from the existing level will need careful thought.
.
You know the background of the new trustees – one from Oxfam, one from the WRVS, one from the Ramblers; another from English Heritage. They know what is paid in those organisations and in other major charities.

I began looking around and came across “Charity Finance” magazine whose September 2011 issue carried a survey of CEO pay levels (including bonuses) of the top 100 charities (by income). These ranged from £710k at Nuffield Health via £400k (Welcome Trust) to under £50k (Salvation Army). Many were in the £100k-200k range.

I think the start point on pay levels has to be to consider what level does CRT have to think of offering when it next needs to recruit?

Having got the other CEO information I mention above, I tried to compare these charities with CRT – and hit a problem. With what do I compare CRT? National Trust (CEO £160-170K) has historic buildings but nothing like the same engineering problems – nor the question of keeping potentially dangerous water in the right place. Network Rail? Not a charity; larger than CRT; also has an old infrastructure and a big network – but again no “nasty” water; their CEO is on £560k. Oxfam (CEO £110-120k) has no similar infrastructure or commercial assets to manage. Unlike many charities, CRT will have very substantial non-donation income – see above. CRT needs to employ the right people to maintain that income.

You can, I hope, see the problem. So you won’t be surprised to hear that outside consultants have been brought in. Their report is being considered by the Trustees – Tony Hales (Chair) said at the Birmingham annual meeting last month that performance related pay in the charitable sector is awarded more by exception and then at lower levels than those currently applying in British Waterways. Tony Hales has also said that the Trustees will make public the advice they receive from the specialist consultants and will make a clear statement of future policy on executive pay before CRT starts in April. You might like to bear in mind that in pushing for the charity idea, BW directors knew it would mean pay changes.



You mention middle management. Please do talk to the Waterway Managers. Invite them on your boats. Email them with problems you find – if you don’t, will they know? Bear in mind that central contracts mean using bulk buying power to reduce costs. They provide flexibility. For example, this winter there will be a large tree cutting programme. Instead of diverting staff from stoppages etc or taking on more staff for a short life project and then laying them off, tree cutting contractors will be brought in The reality is that efficiencies have bought around proportionately more maintenance for the reduced money available. That’s certainly not to say that the waterways don’t need considerably more maintenance – see my point about striking the right deal with government.

(continued on 3rd post)

John Dodwell said...

(continued from 2nd post)

MOORING
I understand BW’s enforcement team has been concentrating on driving down licence evasion – with quite some success. I agree that the Trust must also tackle mooring abuse and I understand that it is next on the enforcement team’s agenda. And you know from the Trustees’ October announcement that moorings and residential boating are on the list of policy matters to be reviewed.
TOWPATHS
Boat users already share the towpath. Like others, I’ve suffered from noisy motorbikes, etc. But how to control them – and dog fouling? I’d welcome ideas. We can’t afford towpath rangers all over the place. Barriers don’t seem to work. I’d welcome people taking up your suggestion of going into schools etc etc and helping us to talk to angling clubs, cyclists and walkers about the etiquette of the towpath.
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT
Defra have just closed their consultation of whether this Act should apply to the Trust – and I hope you all sent in your views. At one level, the charity world is worried that if the Act applies to this Trust, then it will affect other charities; not being Government agencies, charities are not generally covered by the Act. At another level, the Trust would anyway follow closely the spirit of the Act. Defra’s 12 September consultation paper set out how this might be done. Let’s wait and see the outcome of the consultation. BTW, it’s already been decided that the Ombudsman scheme should continue.
LIVEABOARD BOATERS
Yes, they are part of the waterways scene – as are continuous cruisers and unrestricted travelling. I’d just ask that people obey the rules and don’t overstay in wrong places. More residential moorings are on the cards - subject to the planners’ views. Some people already have arrangements with the post office. As to more boating facilities, please help me and let me know where you’d like them – there’s quite a lot already available for the general boat user. Not sure whether liveaboards should be singled out from other boat owners when it comes to Council representation but give me the arguments – or put someone up for election! Bear in mind RBOA have an open line to BW/CRT.
It’s good that you want to make the Trust a success – we need all the support we can get. I’d welcome the opportunity to meet you and others and discuss this further. And do make sure you finish the Manifesto and send it to the Trustees.
John Dodwell
john.dodwell@rolandon.com
07802-961485

Peter Underwood said...

I am working on the final draft and John's contribution is welcome. The only point I would make at this stage is that most serious boaters feel the charity has been foisted on them by a government that is refusing to take financial responsibility for a great national asset. All we want to do is mitigate what we fear will be a disaster.

Allan said...

I am very pleased that John Dodwell has responded to the draft. However, I am appalled by the statement "You say you believe some of the financial projections are wrong. Can you help me by saying which ones you thinking of?".

Is John and the other four non-BW transition trustees unaware of the statement that chief executive Robin Evans made to the APPWG with regard to the funding gap? As an ex IWA general secretary, does he not know what IWA said to that same body?

For a start may I suggest that John reads my article -
http://www.narrowboatworld.com/index.php/news-flash/3747-the-penny-drops

Heth said...

First of all John it's nice to hear a trustee speaking out at last. Well done!

However I have to disagree with the following, Quote: "Sorry but getting rid of the current directors now – in the midst of much change – doesn’t make business sense to me. Let’s get the handover to CRT completed first!"

I think it would be prudent to get rid of them NOW. The business sense in that is that CaRT would be saving money to deal with other things.

Just what are Robbing Evans & co doing (done) to earn such bonuses? A bonus is supposed to be tied to performance. I'm guessing that due to the "big silence" from them recently they know its wrong. Robbing Evans' only performance is more likely to be playing the wicked witch in a Christmas pantomime.

H

Allan said...

With regard to Heth's comment, it is not within the remit of the transition trustees to remove executive directors yet.

Having said that, it seems that John is being disingenuous in saying "So you won’t be surprised to hear that outside consultants have been brought in".

It would be more truthful to say that the consultants were brought in by BW's executive directors before the transition trustees were appointed. In other words reports were waiting for the transition trustees justifying directors salary levels for the new charity.

So why try to mislead us?

Keith said...

I doubt there's a boater in the land that trusts Robin Evans or anyone else at the top end of BW for that matter.High saleries + bonuses for failure are hardly likely to instill confidence that the charity will succeed.

Maffi said...

Peter there is something missing. This manifesto says whay we want,it doesnot say what we are going to do to help the CRT. It doesn't include our 'responsibility' towards the waterways.

It cannot say we want, we want, we want, without balancing that with a sprinkling of we wills.

Peter Underwood said...

Maffi
Not missing at all. Says at the top this is what boaters want in return for giving their enthusiasm and commitment to CandRT. What form that takes will vary from boater to boater but will (subject to real results) differ from the current widespread cynicism and disgust about BW's senior directors.

John Dodwell said...

Well, I knew that joining in this discussion might attract comments – and I’ve not been disappointed! And I’m prepared to continue as I think it is important that we all understand as much as possible about the new Trust.

Sorry for the delay in responding (been a bit busy on other CRT matters) but to respond on the points above, well, Yes, I am aware of what IWA is saying about funding. Quite apart from being an IWA member and so getting their mails, IWA have, sensibly, put all the transitional trustees on their mailing lists; and they re-iterated the money point when they met some of Trustees in the summer. And yes, the Trustees do know what the APPWG said. In addition we know what IWAC said – and that was re-iterated when some of the IWAC members met some of the Trustees in September. We also know what KPMG reported. And, Yes, the Trustees have had our own look at the figures and have formed our own view. And. Yes, the Trustees have publicly said we need to persuade Defra to increase their £39m offer. We are now in the midst of discussions with Defra.

I think Allan may have misunderstood my query to Peter Underwood. Peter’s draft manifesto said “We believe some of the financial projections offered by British Waterways and Defra are simply wrong and need to be tested far more critically than seems the case at present” (my underlining). I was asking which financial projections concerned him. There have been more than a few! I don’t think the ones from other people which Allan mentions are the ones Peter had in mind as they are not from BW/Defra.

Allan mentions the pay consultants. Honestly, Allan, what possible motive might I have to mislead anyone? I’m one of the new guys in CRT; I’m one of the old guys on the waterways scene – I volunteered at my first boat rally in 1962 at Woking. I can only tell Allan what I know – which is this. The Trustees wanted to start with a clean slate about senior pay; in addition to that, we were well aware of the high feelings on this subject. What we inherit from BW is one thing. What we need to pay in the future to recruit the right staff is another thing. My first post went into detail about comparisons with other charities. The consultants were not commissioned by BW senior executives. The trustees were appointed in May. Following a meeting in June, the consultants were chosen and commissioned by Rodney Green (non-executive BW director who is also chair of the existing BW remuneration committee) and Jane Cotton (a new trustee who is Oxfam’s deputy head and heads up their human resources (personnel) side and who will chair CRT’s remuneration committee from next April). As CRT (or, as it was then called, NWC) didn’t have a formal status at that time, the consultants had to be commissioned by BW. The consultants’ report is for the trustees, not for the existing BW board. The whole subject is being discussed by the trustees alone – i.e. in the absence of executive directors. You’ll have noticed it’s been one of the first points we are dealing with.

Keep the questions coming, guys! If you don’t express your worries, I can’t know of them, let alone try to answer them. Now………I’m sure I’ll regret having said that but still! Just as long as you don’t expect me always to agree with you or to have all the answers. The effect of this whole move to the new Trust won’t happen overnight but with your help we can have a better future for the waterways.

John

Allan said...

John says
"Honestly, Allan, what possible motive might I have to mislead anyone?"

I don't know but you did and you have done so again.

Would it not be more honest to include the information I sent you in your response?

I will say no more on this matter here as the boaters manifesto asks that the executive be replaced. As such further discussion is something of a diversion!

On the issue of retention of directors - can the transition trustees tell us how the chief executive has performed against the yearly targets he was set in 2003/4 with regard to visitor numbers and self sufficiency (i.e. government grant)?

If the transition trustees are not aware of these targets, then why not?

It would seem to me that these are the only relevant measures of how well BW's executive directors have performed against long term objectives.

Can the transition trustees also tell us what the maintenance backlog will be in April next year?

I recall that it should have been eliminated but we were told a few years ago that BW had a £200m backlog and a 30m funding gap which means it will have increased.

Can you also provide boaters with minutes of your meetings? I made a FOIA request on 2/9/2011 for this information which has been ignored despite a requirement under law to respond within 20 working days.

It is perhaps little wonder that the boaters manifesto asks that CART be subject to the FOIA act whilst the transition trustees take the opposing view.

Finally, can you stop beating about the bush on funding. Tell us straight what extra funding is needed to maintain steady state and justify it!

Geoff Smith said...

Really liked the manifesto but really struggling to lose a sense of forboding, here.
I am new to boating.
I have been astounded at just how bad the whole network is as we saw more and more of it over the last couple of years.
The decay wasn't just local to where we were when we started.
The single most important backlog, after structures (and weren't BW already nervous about Netherton Tunnel, for 4 years dismissive of Bridge 80 (or is it 88?, can't remember) on the northern Oxford, inter alia?) must be dredging and starting with reservoirs! Cofton's or the Oxford's or the Leeds Liverpool's supplies, for instance, or at least the next one that runs dry? Water shortages are here to stay, I argue, and the loss (not recently, maybe) of the many lock side ponds, twinned narrow locks with wide ones &c is now hurting us!
Also, when canal dredging calculations are made, what criteria are used as the benchmark? What BW think they can get away with for no money?
As a retired blue light responder, to me, this is basic fundamental H & S. We never did the course on walking on water, never mind the seeing round corners. Where do you think my former colleagues' nearest boat will be? Really think fire personnel are going to wade out to be broiled by a boat fire or paramedics wade across to add leptospirosis to a patient's problems? BW knows the draughts of boats. All boats must be able to get to one side in an emergency, anywhere, so the minimum profile must start out as being the original profile the canal first began with, and then to work on from there. It's no good BW/CART hiding behind SSSI's to reduce obligations (e.g. Leicester GU).
I must add that enforcement is a complete joke.
In short, there is none to speak of! In my three short years, this is what I've come across, twice at Sherborne Wharf in the middle of Brum in the small hours of two mornings nearly a year apart ticketing licence evaders (heard nothing afterwards, though but one boat had a couple) and once at the Oxford Summit closure at Marston Doles (order prevailed) but not at the other end, the Claydon Flight (complete anarchy)!
Rules are binary. No point in making them if they're not going to be enforced and on an industrial scale until the message gets home. My untrained eye views the Lee & Stort thing as farcical and cruising from Bath to the bottom of Caen Hill on tick over mostly, dreadful. It's disgusting that boats we were with could not get in to visit Claverton with us because of canal bank squatters, not visitors. Does that charity no favours!
You won't like it but I'd go further. Make B.T.Police cover canals (barking they don't cover all transport) and have them employ Specials from boaters and interested communities (though yet to see towns and villages striding down their streets in support of waterways of their own volition-more like led grudgingly by the enthused) to patrol and enforce by-laws as well as more general law and order.
That kite'll have contributors choking with laughter..
Still love boating, honest, but seems to me more and more despite authorities rather than because of them.
The Bristol Avon is shut at Bath I hear.
Just what will CART do if it loses a long tunnel on its 2nd day? Nothing, I reckon.
Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose?
Deck chairs and Titannic? You choose. Given the present climate, I fear this won't end well....

Geoff Smith.

John Dodwell said...

In reply to Allan’s post of 15 November.
On the Defra funding, let’s wait till the negotiations are over – as I said in my first post, the Trustees are pushing very hard for an increase in the £39m –which we have said isn’t enough, as I also said in my first post. On FoIA, I’ll repeat what I said in my first post: let’s wait for the outcome of the present consultation.
Regarding BW’s historic targets, I’m not in the business of defending BW – they can do that for themselves. I’m interested in the future with CRT – yes, and learning from BW mistakes (being human, everyone, including people in BW, makes some).
As I said in my original post, reference was made at the October 2011 BW annual meeting that the trustees’ research showed performance pay in the charitable sector is awarded more by exception and then at lower levels than those currently applying in British Waterways.
Can I ask Allan why he seems so aggressive to me? My first post gave some details about me .Let me add that I volunteered at my first protest rally in 1962 at Woking ; did a lot of voluntary work on the 60’s Stourbridge Canal restoration; canoed in protest along the derelict K&A and Ashton and lower Peak Forest and Basingstoke Canals; volunteered at “Opash” and Ashtac”; volunteered on the Upper Avon rebuilding; hired boats for protest cruises (including at Christmas); was IWA General Secretary 1971-4; lobbied Parliament over the 68 Transport Act and was successful in 1973 in stopping BW being carved up under the regional water authorities; I’ve hired boats with my family and so know what it’s like to have to cope with small children on a boat; I’ve travelled over most the system and the Broads; on becoming a CRT trustee, I had to stop being chair of the CBOA and I had to leave IWAC and BWAF. I have my own 3 ft deep 51 ft long old BCN tug and sometimes cruise single-handedly; I know what it’s like when the bottom is too near the top. Maybe all that had some influence on my becoming a trustee, apart from my general wide business experience. From which readers may deduce I thought I would have common cause with Allan in wanting the best for the waterways! And I have offered to meet Allan…….

John Dodwell
CRT Transitional Trustee

Allan said...

Hi John

You do yourself no credit saying that you are not in the business of defending BW on its historical record and then spending half your post defending yourself on yours!

Do not confuse straight talking with aggression.

With regard to 'wait and see' on Defra funding. No thanks, by that time you might have sold us down the cut!

FOIA - same again. The trustees need to go back to Defra and withdraw the request to be free of the act - What have you got to hide?

Meeting? As I have previously stated, it is more important that you meet Peter and the Boater's Manifesto team

Heth said...

Allan,

I think it's time to let the "straight talking" (bordering on aggro) go.

The trustees already have a very good idea about how us boaters feel, & John seems to have an understanding of that. Enough to speak out & take the flack for a mess he didn't get the waterways into.

IMHO you're simply transferring your frustration regarding BW management onto the trustees before they've had a chance to prove they can do better.
Let's give them that chance, I know funding is the main issue & will be for a long time. But you keep harping on about it, & the fact that they're unaware of what they're up against.

You've done your research, let them do theirs. After all there's not a thing we can do to change the funding issue, so why waste your time?

It won't be long before they come to experienced boaters for advice, they'll have no choice.

For anyone who's interested, Odette has just posted this link on Waterscape Official:

http://www.waterscape.com/features-and-articles/news/3234/boaters-needed-for-canal-and-river-trust-council?mid=535

Isn't that part of what you've been asking for? Forget the funding gap, that's their problem but it's the best we, as boaters are going to get for now.

So go with the flow, (excuse pun)you are being listened to when you criticise, but I don't think it's helping anyone & it's getting a bit rep rep repetitive.

Heth

www.takeytezeyheth.net

Allan said...

Heth

You say 'After all there's not a thing we can do to change the funding issue, so why waste your time?'

I call that a defeatist attitude!

What I did was not only email my MP, as requested by IWA, but also 19 out of the 20 MP's who form APPWG.

Here is what I said -

Dear xxxxxx

I am emailing you as a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Waterways.

I would like to congratulate the group on producing its Memorandum 'The Future of the Waterways' in July 2011. This document manages to encapsulate in a few pages the challenges facing what we now know as Canal & River Trust (CART).

I would draw your attention to the following extract -

We recommend that Government seeks an independent professional evaluation of British Waterways' financial projections and methodology to verify the financial requirements.

Unfortunately, Government has not heeded this advice.

I would ask that you read a recent article in Narrowboatworld which is largely based on such a professional evaluation -

http://www.narrowboatworld.com/index.php/news-flash/3709-the-credibility-gap

Put simply, my concern is that the funding gap may be significantly higher than the £39m figure provided to the Group by BW's chief executive, Robin Evans, and it will rise over time as suggested in the KPMG report.

However, recent evidence suggests that the funding negotiations currently taking place between Defra and the CART transition trustees will be on the basis that the funding gap is just £20m for the first ten years!

It would seem that any chance for a viable future for our waterways rests with the APPWG ensuring that its recommendation for an independent professional evaluation is carried out.


Perhaps if John would care to admit that the transition trustees are negotiating with government on the basis of a £20m funding gap and explain why this differs from what the APPWG have been told then we would have a basis from which we could move forward.

John Dodwell said...

Geoff: I hope I can throw some light on some of what you mentioned on 15 November; sorry for the delay but I’ve been busy with CRT matters.Spl;it into 2 posts.

Bridges and Tunnels etc. On what will be the CRT waterways, there are 1,650 locks, 3,095 bridges, 413 aqueducts and 55 Tunnels. They are part of about 10,000 structures called Principal Assets. These include many culverts – the little tunnels taking streams etc under canals which most of us never see; unfortunately they cause problems if they collapse. All these items are inspected monthly to make sure they haven’t changed or – if they have, the changes are monitored until repairs are needed.

At present, these structures are graded A to E, according to their state of repair; A is best and E is worst. They are also graded 1 to 5, according to the consequences of collapse with 1 being not very much and 5 being possible cause of death. So A1 is fine: E5 is very bad. There are no E5s. BW’s last annual report showed 17.9% in the D and E category, two years before, it was 20.3%. This grading helps to decide where to direct resources for maintenance.

I know that north Oxford Canal bridge you mention and have navigated through it on a number of times. It is an accommodation bridge, not a road bridge. So it’s not very high up the priority list. Before I became a trustee, I and others who were concerned about it asked BW about their plans for it – was it going to be demolished? No, we were told, it’s got heritage importance; the abutment bases had failed and it wasn’t a simple repair job. I can now say that this bridge is due to be repaired in 2012 and that it is planned that volunteers will do part of the work.

Water supply. This is crucial for the whole network. Rainwater goes into reservoirs or direct into the canal or can be pumped up from the underground water aquifers; in some cases, from sewage works – e.g. Autherley, one reason why the Staffs and Worcs and Shropshire Union are usually Ok. So if there are prolonged periods of no rain, there are problems. The statistics for the Crofton area show ground water levels (from which they pump) were the lowest for 90 years. In the Braunston/Oxford Canal summit area, it has been the driest 12 month period from October 2010 to September 2011, since records began in 1910. Some money was allocated this year for reservoir works whilst levels were low. In addition, the Waterways and Water Management team are in the process of identifying short-term, ad hoc schemes to improve the likelihood of reservoirs refilling from their exceptionally low levels, and plan to present these to BW Directors for funding approval very soon.

Although a ten-mile stretch of the K&A has just succumbed to the drought, it is worth noting that because of the way the water is now managed, the teams on the ground got us through this year’s main cruising season without having to close any waterway - just.

You suggest dredging reservoirs. Well, yes…..but. Would you and I prefer dredging money to be spent on the main channel or on reservoirs because of an out-of –the –ordinary dry summer? The Leeds & Liverpool had to shut last year – but was OK this year. In some places, water is pumped back up flights – Caen Hill is one. The staff includes water experts. Like me – and I expect you – they are watching weather forecasts and praying for rain. They tell me they are trying to plan for shortages next year – will someone please tell them where it is not going to rain?

John Dodwell
Transitional Trustee
Canal & River Trust

(continued next post)

John Dodwell said...

Geoff: I hope I can throw some light on some of what you mentioned on 15 November; sorry for the delay but I’ve been busy with CRT matters.Spl;it into 2 posts.

Bridges and Tunnels etc. On what will be the CRT waterways, there are 1,650 locks, 3,095 bridges, 413 aqueducts and 55 Tunnels. They are part of about 10,000 structures called Principal Assets. These include many culverts – the little tunnels taking streams etc under canals which most of us never see; unfortunately they cause problems if they collapse. All these items are inspected monthly to make sure they haven’t changed or – if they have, the changes are monitored until repairs are needed.

At present, these structures are graded A to E, according to their state of repair; A is best and E is worst. They are also graded 1 to 5, according to the consequences of collapse with 1 being not very much and 5 being possible cause of death. So A1 is fine: E5 is very bad. There are no E5s. BW’s last annual report showed 17.9% in the D and E category, two years before, it was 20.3%. This grading helps to decide where to direct resources for maintenance.

I know that north Oxford Canal bridge you mention and have navigated through it on a number of times. It is an accommodation bridge, not a road bridge. So it’s not very high up the priority list. Before I became a trustee, I and others who were concerned about it asked BW about their plans for it – was it going to be demolished? No, we were told, it’s got heritage importance; the abutment bases had failed and it wasn’t a simple repair job. I can now say that this bridge is due to be repaired in 2012 and that it is planned that volunteers will do part of the work.

Water supply. This is crucial for the whole network. Rainwater goes into reservoirs or direct into the canal or can be pumped up from the underground water aquifers; in some cases, from sewage works – e.g. Autherley, one reason why the Staffs and Worcs and Shropshire Union are usually Ok. So if there are prolonged periods of no rain, there are problems. The statistics for the Crofton area show ground water levels (from which they pump) were the lowest for 90 years. In the Braunston/Oxford Canal summit area, it has been the driest 12 month period from October 2010 to September 2011, since records began in 1910. Some money was allocated this year for reservoir works whilst levels were low. In addition, the Waterways and Water Management team are in the process of identifying short-term, ad hoc schemes to improve the likelihood of reservoirs refilling from their exceptionally low levels, and plan to present these to BW Directors for funding approval very soon.

Although a ten-mile stretch of the K&A has just succumbed to the drought, it is worth noting that because of the way the water is now managed, the teams on the ground got us through this year’s main cruising season without having to close any waterway - just.

You suggest dredging reservoirs. Well, yes…..but. Would you and I prefer dredging money to be spent on the main channel or on reservoirs because of an out-of –the –ordinary dry summer? The Leeds & Liverpool had to shut last year – but was OK this year. In some places, water is pumped back up flights – Caen Hill is one. The staff includes water experts. Like me – and I expect you – they are watching weather forecasts and praying for rain. They tell me they are trying to plan for shortages next year – will someone please tell them where it is not going to rain?

John Dodwell
Transitional Trustee
Canal & River Trust

(continued next post)

John Dodwell said...

(continued post)

Dredging. Yes, more needs to be done. But when you mention getting boats to the side anywhere, we need to remember the canals were never designed for that. Cargo carrying narrow boats didn’t need to tie up everywhere. They went from deep water wharf to deep water wharf. That’s why I – in my 3ft draft 51ft old BCN tug - can’t get into the side on the Macclesfield or the Ashby in many places; and look at the sloped sides on the new Telford parts of the north Oxford.

Enforcement. The CRT Trustees know more needs to be done – see our 6th October 2011 announcement about moorings and residential boats being among our priorities (see www.britishwaterways.co.uk/media/documents/Trustee-Announcement-The-Canal-and-River-Trust.pdf
Like you, I dislike going at tickover for too long. In fact, with a 35 HP engine and a 25 inch prop, I sometimes find tickover is too fast and have to go into neutral.

Tunnel or other collapse? Yes, CRT is taking on that risk – inherent with artificial waterways. Might be worth remembering the big Mon and Brec breach was repaired – at a £8m cost. And that the Stourbridge and Caldon and Shroppie breaches were repaired at under £1m each. BW had to find the money for all those and did so – there wasn’t any extra funding available from Government. And you mentioned Netherton Tunnel – well, the problem is that ground movement is slowly forcing the bottom of the arch nearer the water surface which is why it is monitored to see how much it is moving (see page 45 of the September edition of Canal Boat for a full explanation). It was OK when I went through it twice this summer – apart from one spot (which I reported to the waterway manager). The tunnel is scheduled for repairs in the next financial year. BW’s engineers are currently scoping out exactly what the best solution will be, but needless to say a repair of this complexity and magnitude will cost hundreds of thousands.

Hope all this helps and isn’t grandma telling you how to suck eggs. It won’t answer everything, I know. Can you spread the info?

John Dodwell
Transitional Trustee
Canal & River Trust

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