Wednesday, 6 November 2013

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Well done Pam on Narrowboatworld for your excellent dissection of CRT's statement published in defence of the Judicial review action being pursued by Nick Brown; the piece highlights Nigel Johnson's statement to the Court which seems to unambiguosly confirm that there is a 'good boater/bad boater' mentality ingrained within CRT thinking.

The ugly is of course the consequences of this attitude; his express scapegoating of continuous cruisers. (The timing of the statement also confirms that nothing whatsoever has changed in this respect since the transfer from British Waterways.)

Others have commented on the 'braveness' of publishing these views at this time. Apart from being blatantly provocative, the position that Continuous Cruisers are the main problem is also largely unsubstantiated by the evidence.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Canal and River Trust does not record complaint outcomes

CRT have confirmed that they don't keep a list of complaint outcomes, (I assume a practise inherited from BW). Following a recent FOI response to the question: 'May I ask what percentage of formal complaints made to Canal Trust are upheld on investigation by yourselves?', we are told:

"... We have considered your request and I am writing to let you know that we do not hold this information. At the first and second levels of our complaints procedure (where we consider complaints, as opposed to the Waterways Ombudsman) we try to resolve complaints rather than judge whether we 'uphold' a complaint; as such we do not record the outcome of a complaint only that it is made."

Hardly surprising then that problems re-occur. From my various rantings in these pages I could have told you that. The repetition and re-occurrence of problems previously reported and even formally complained about, has long convinced me that there is a 'lack of corporate memory' in CRT. Their response to this FOI confirms it.

This state of affairs of course makes a mockery of the complaints process as a whole and undermines any claims that CRT cares for its paying customers and the wider community.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Canal and River Trust still manipulating mooring prices

Last year I cited the example of Engineer's Wharf in London as a prime example of BW and now CRT failing to offer true market prices. Well a year later it's still going on.

Today there were still two vacant berths advertised at Engineers Wharf on the CRT Moorings Auction site. Clearly CRT are no different from BW in this respect; they would rather have empty berths in a region where there is supposed to be a moorings crisis going on than lose face by reducing prices?

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Illegal Thoughts

The text below was written by me for NABO news and published in the July 2013 issue. Thought I would post them here too given Narrowboatworld's proposed poll on overstaying charges. This week has also seen news that CRT are planning to try implementing this system in a few places.

We get the impression that more than a few people question why NABO, some would say obstinately, all but stands alone among the established waterways organisations by still opposing a number of issues concerning licence terms and conditions and enforcement issues proposed by CRT. As reported in last NABO News we are taking further legal advice on a number of matters and following our subsequent Council meeting (May 2013) we reviewed the matter and felt we should  re-state our view.

The matter is in essence really simple. We don’t deny that when it comes to enforcement issues CRT has a huge problem and needs a different approach to that which has been tried in the past. Where we remain concerned is that the apparent imperative to do something is leading CRT down a path of pursuing new rules and regulations that are not sustainable, which risk being ripped up sometime in the future because they are legally unsound.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Canal and River Trust targets disabled man with no assets

If correct, the report on the KANDA site suggests that CRT retains the same vindictive streak towards some of the liveaboard boaters that it falls into dispute with as often seemingly applied under BW. As well as families with children it now seems that disabled people living on benefits are to be discouraged from living afloat.

Apparently CRT are trying to claim £76 000 from George Ward who it took to Court earlier this year. A copy of the judgement in this case can be viewed on the CRT website (link to PDF file here).

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Plus ca change...

Still here and still trying to get CRT to finish all the repairs on the mooring that I complained about last year and as ever it is like drawing teeth to actually get jobs completed. The change from BW to CRT doesn't seem to make any difference on that front; you just have to keep battling and nagging them  to get the basics done.

Most beautiful was a recent e-mail where CRT (one suspects completely unwittingly) admitted they hadn't allocated the contractors enough time to do the routine site jobs properly so we should expect things not to be done when they should be! Needless to say they got a fairly sharp reply to that one!

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Divide and Rule

The following standard operating procedure came to my attention recently.
  1. Find a vocal boater who has indicated some sympathy or personal interest with what you are trying to do and who has time on their hands.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Canal and River Trust's first major boating consultation: Lies or incompetence?

The recent CRT response to the SE Moorings Consultation contains for me a damning admission. CRT apparently do not consistently record what their customers tell them. For old hands like me this is actually no surprise whatsoever. It is the way BW worked for years and seemingly CRT are going to carry on the same way. Admitting the failing so publically is however new!

On the one hand they claimed to be receiving numerous 'complaints' about difficulties mooring, but it seems none of these complaints were formally recorded in their complaints system or anywhere else. Understandably this situation meant that NABO and others have felt obliged to run a coach and horses through the consultation process. Taken at its worst the whole process is based on what anyone else would call hearsay. Some are accusing CRT of outright lies. Narrowboatworld sets out the details here, in much the the same terms as I understand it.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Legal Costs and Nigel Moore

I wrote previously about Nigel Moore's situation and CRT have now responded to my FOI request on costs. Give or take the litigation has cost them us £1/4 million.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Can't remember my new name?

Well CRT have finally published their conclusions from the Houseboat Consultation exercise they did last year. The most revealing thing for me is not their conclusions about the way forward. (I will doubtless come back to that.) No, it's much better than that!

There's a joke in the public housing sector about stock transfers, a feature of the last decade of UK housing policy. The joke is that although their landlords became housing associations, for the punters it too often makes no real difference and has little practical impact on the reality of their experience: years after you can always find one tenant who still thinks they are "with the Council".

Well it seems CRT are having the same problem but this time, internally:  Throughout the consultation report they refer to themselves as and respond as "British Waterways". Wonder how many CRT people were involved in drafting the report? It seems they all succombed to the same freudian slip?

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Buyer Beware!

It seems after several years of looking, Sally Ash has maybe found a group of boaters prepared to give roving mooring permits a go. Well, that may be overstating it. But at least there is a group of boaters in West London looking at it and preparing to enter discussions with CRT.

Lots of people nationally are watching this activity not least myself and colleagues in NABO who still have huge misgivings about this proposal.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

The sublime and the ridiculous

Which of these is sublime and which ridiculous I leave you to judge.

First there is Nigel Moore's thumping victory in the Court of Appeal. Now that the litigation is apparently concluded more can be said on this.

Then there is shock news that NABO Chairman David Fletcher has been served with an enforcement notice by CRT enforcement officers.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Council condenmed for letting parishioners express their views!

Controversy has again shaken the little village of Smoke on the Water in the County of Glossitover. The Parish Council has issued a formal complaint to the County Council about its recently released film footage.

Controversially it seems that last year the County Council decided to directly contact parishioners about the ongoing parking problems in Smoke on the Water village. However the County Council recorded these conversations on film and has since published the finished vox populi on-line.

The Parish Council has taken extreme exception to all this and in December made a formal complaint, claiming that talking directly to residents in order to hear their views, "without any moderated context, is irresponsible".

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Happy 10th Anniversary Year!

Just noticed it is now into the tenth year that I have been waiting for full terms and conditions for my mooring

I would particularly like to thank Tony Hales, Robin Evans, Sally Ash, Nigel Johnson, Simon Salem and all those others whose broken promises have been instrumental in reaching this anniversary, and without whose wider efforts I would not be today marking the last decade's struggle.

Two people are not with us today; that is Hilary Bainbridge and Stephen Edell. Sadly neither they or I have seen their recommendations come fully to fruition to date but I am sure they both wish us well for the future.

As some will know 10 years is in some contexts celebrated as a Tin anniversary. I am happy to say that we still seem to be kicking the same can down the road today as 10 years ago.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Flogging a dead mooring (Not!)

Well I never. Just searched Moorings Vacancies again and now all five vacancies which I pointed out back in September are showing as still vacant, at Engineer's Wharf. How long does this farce have to continue?

Monday, 14 January 2013

Canal and River Trust still manipulating Mooring Prices

They are still at it. Went and searched advertised residential moorings vacancies earlier and at Engineers Wharf there are four berths showing vacant today.

Clearly the suggestion that CRT set a market rate for directly managed moorings is a lie as the reserve prices have not been reduced despite the apparently ongoing vacancies. It seems they will set a market rate if the price goes up but apparently not when it should go down?

The real scandal is of course that we are all being asked to contribute and fundraise for CRT but they are simultaneously prepared to forego in excess of £20 000 per annum in rental income (just in this example) in order to artificially inflate the price of London Moorings?

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Dawning of a New Era?

Let's not mince words. This week's news that Robin Evans is leaving CRT is good news from my perspective. Trying to resist the temptation to rant on in detail* but for me Robin's tenure has marked a decade of broken promises, some to me personally and some to the whole boating community.

Inevitably there will be much said both in favour and against Robin's tenure and achievements or failures. But the period is well summarised for me  by the CRT = Can't Really Trust'em tag on that poster that's been doing the rounds. That for me must be a priority for the new CEO. Start treating boaters as valued customers.

(* For more detailed ranting please pick almost any other posting on this blog!)