Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Happy New Year boaters

It may be a bit late but I'm going to suggest that CRT needs to make a New Years resolution: Be nicer to boaters. (Now stop laughing in the back!) Seriously, how are things going to be between boaters and CRT in 2018?

We wait with baited breathe CRT's decisions following the national Boat Licencing consultation. For me at least the whole exercise says a lot: CRT have spent tens of thousands of pounds fiddling around with talk about changing something which it appears to most of us wasn't broken in the first place. In so doing they have of course re-opened a can of worms that they have looked into so many times before. It seems either that they have forgotten from the last time that all that is in the can is worms, or maybe they are just opening it again on purpose?

If nothing else what we have seen from all the om-line comment on the consultation is pretty much any change CRT choose to make is going to make someone unhappy. Why oh why did they go there in the first case?

Of course the favourite theory is they want to have yet another go at increasing licence charges for continuous cruisers despite the fact that the usual suspects like NABO and NBTA keep pointing out that this would most likely be ultra vires.

So why do CRT persist in this repeated self flagellation exercise?

I'm increasingly of the view that there is some sort of obsessive ideological antagonism towards boaters ingrained in CRT. It is about the only thing that can explain the constant tinkering with terms and conditions and generally throwing their weight around for little apparent reason than the fact they can.

CRT also need to bear in mind that most boaters are content to play a long game. CRT are making lots of noise and spin about public good at the moment. This is unashamedly in preparation for the next round of bidding for Government grant as the current ten year deal creeps closer to renewal.

Well a word of warning. If you piss off lots of boaters now CRT you will have a vocal army of critics ready to lay into you when you come to the bidding process.

CRT grudgingly admit that boaters are one of their major funders (the arithmetic on the income side of their accounts makes that undeniable). And yet they seem to persistently upset their most significant and numerous group of funding partners. What's that all about?

As a closing note I received an email yesterday from CRT telling us all that what started off a couple of years ago as the London Boating Bulletin is being renamed the London Waterways Bulletin. So much to that particular promise, to engage more closely with boaters! Happy New Year.

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