Thursday, 28 April 2016

Rumours of common sense being applied to Canal and River Trust mooring policy may have been premature

I was clearly being far too optimistic when I suggested an outbreak of common sense at CRT when it came to visitor moorings policy. As usual, although the intentions were doubtless genuine, the execution was....

CRT attempted another consultation on restricting visitor mooring times in the South East region earlier this year, but a few days after they started, they admitted that they had provided incorrect data for one of the sites so they withdrew that part of the consultation. In their own words:

"...the current mooring stay time information for Batchworth provided in the visitor mooring report to the sub group in November, and subsequently transferred into the consultation was incorrect. This error was highlighted to me today, so I have taken action to withdrawal the Batchworth proposal from the consultation information on the web page replacing it with a correction and apology..."

After that false start Mark Tizzard of NABO pointed out a slightly more serious flaw in the methodology when it came to the data used to justify the consultation as a whole:

It would appear that the volunteers who did the boat logging were not asked to record whether there was any available mooring space so it is not clear whether over the suggested period there was a consistent shortage of available mooring space or not.

So basically the consultation was not based on any evidence of the lack of availability of space, because CRT did not get its  foot soldiers to check for that

(I suppose trying to introduce restrictions with the wrong evidence is a step forward from trying to do it with no evidence whatsoever?)
It was also recently reported in a recent NABO e-newsletter that:  

At the public meetings the matter was raised of how the new residents at the recent Marsworth development were reacting to boaters using the adjacent service facilities. The mooring rings had been removed in a move to prevent usage apparently at the instigation of residents. They are now to be reinstated as a result of pressure from local boaters and NABO.

This incident again seems to fly at odds with the published policy? Such a change to facilities is supposed to be consulted on as per...

At a subsequent meeting with NABO, CRT put their hands up to the fact that "... the recent consultation on Visitor Moorings in the South East was not handled well and they will ensure that in future the Short Term Mooring Framework guidelines are adhered to". (The notes are silent on Marmsworth.)

The thing that old hands like me have repeatedly seen, is that CRT, and before them BW, always make promises to do things better, more openly and rationally after a cock-up. But of course they too often fail to do what they just said they would. If CRT managers responsible for these consultations apparently can't or won't follow, or perhaps, just fail to understand written instructions and procedures laid out in front of them, I'm afraid many of us at best just shrug our shoulders and think, same old shxx. Events like these just reinforce the belief that CRT are just not credible when in comes to managing facilities for boaters.

In my last post I talked about the 'charitisation' of British Waterways and how little impact this was seemingly having on the fund-raising front. The boating community are by far and away the biggest 'independent' group of financial supporters of the waterways, providing CRT with around a quarter of its annual income. We could and would do more, especially on the voluntary front, if we felt we were being treated seriously. But event such as latest farce do little to motivate us into giving up our free time to help, when issues that affect us are handled with such carelessness.

Oh and by the way, please read the report on the outcomes of the consultation: All that effort and aggravation and it comes back to what we could have and told them: There was never a problem in the first place.

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