Sunday, 6 November 2011

Feeding the hand that bites you

A slight rant today but I feel the need to say this. I was reminded of the above epithet which, I think I saw from someone else on-line on the same issue, when I saw this morning, the 'Biking for Bonuses' article from Narrowboatworld's Alan Richards in which he has highlighted an example of what is for myself and many a fundamental problem with the New Waterways Charity. I don't know and haven't met BW's new head of Fundraising and whether she or someone else is the originator of the idea that hard pressed staff members should pay an entry fee and give up annual leave to take part in a fundraising event for the NWC, I also don't know.

However I take the same sort of view as Alan, that who ever is responsible for this is on a another planet. Alan says it all in his article. By simply not standing firm and not paying the directors bonuses as previously agreed the BW Remuneration Committee has put a huge obstacle to any fundraising.

This brings me round to reflecting on my passion: the position of the boating community vis a vis British Waterways and it's successor.

On Canalworld Forum there was the usual anger and vitriol, that too often appears in such places, going on between boaters recently, over last year's NABO AGM where Simon Salem of BW made the mistake of asking who present would donate to the NWC. This was met with a frosty silence.

I was not there (part of the reason for my non attendance being blunt was a wish not to be in the same room as Simon Salem), but if  I had been there, I would I like to think I would not have been silent but would have laid out why the silence.

The fact is I am already a paying customer of British Waterways and through mooring fees and boat licencing I already pay £6000 a year to BW. In the past the CEO has also admitted that as much as two thirds of my mooring fees go into the general funding of British Waterways. As reported at many times in this blog I get poor undefined services for my money and I am not alone in saying this is the case. It is beyond reasonable doubt.

Equally at BW's hand I am not it seems even entitled to have written terms and conditions for my mooring despite many years of asking.

When I try to have basic repairs done I am met with obfuscation and in many case it is only by using the complaints process that anything gets done. I have had to live under these circumstances for over a decade.When I complain to my MP, the BW CEO responds with blatant un-truths, directly contradicting the findings of the Waterways Ombudsman during a prolonged complaint which he was party to.

Why then am I going to give a penny or raise a finger to BW or its successor, especially while it's Directors are being paid bonuses equivalent to the annual salaries of front line staff for their prolonged failure to manage the waterways' finances successfully and their failed gambling on speculative property development, the lossees from which have ripped the heart out of BW's front line service and maintenance programmes? (Of course this has been going on for some time.)

While this carries on and more important while faced with the continued denials of these failure by BW senior managers and the Board, I feel I have some right to be more than a little cynical about the New Waterways Charity, especially while it seems most of the same incumbents will remain in situ despite their appalling track record.

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