Photo: Welches Dam Photographer: Eddy Edwards
IWA is extremely disappointed at the announcement from the Environment Agency that Defra has been unable to agree Canal & River Trust’s recent proposal for taking over the navigations run by EA. At a meeting last week, the Defra Minister with responsibility for the Waterways, Dr Thérèse Coffey, informed IWA representatives that the transfer was still being considered subject to further talks to refine CRT’s proposals. IWA has since received confirmation from Defra that Government remains receptive to a revised proposal from CRT and understands that the Minister has offered a further meeting with CRT.
IWA recognises the efforts of the Environment Agency to maintain its navigations within the limited government grant available and the lack of opportunity to attract the further funding that CRT can. IWA is particularly concerned that during this entire debate there has been no indication from government as to how sufficient and sustainable levels of funding will be provided for EA navigations if the transfer does not progress. With increased pressure on general EA budgets through Defra and the need to prioritise other services such as flood control, the funding for navigation seems likely to decrease and navigation assets deteriorate further. There is evidence that if navigation structures such as locks, bridges and embankments are not maintained to a proper standard this could result in a major failure leading to lengthy closures of the navigation, damage to local economies, increased local flood risk and the need to expend large sums on remedial work.
IWA believes that these matters should be capable of resolution and that a transfer of EA navigations remains the best way to ensure the future of these waterways with the minimum impact on the public purse. IWA urges Defra and CRT to continue negotiations towards a mutually acceptable solution and in the meantime we will focus on the matter which has always been our primary concern – that EA's navigations have sufficient funding to ensure their proper maintenance, and re-opening of those sections of navigation that have been closed until further notice.
Photo: l to r - Ivor Caplan, Chairman IWA, Dr Thérèse Coffey, Defra Minister with responsibility for the waterways, Neil Edwards, Chief Executive Officer IWA
On 22nd January Ivor Caplan, Neil Edwards with Jonathan Shaw (IWA’s Parliamentary Adviser) met the Defra Minister with responsibility for the Waterways, Dr Thérèse Coffey MP and her team. This was a good opportunity to explain the achievements of IWA and our vision for the future of the waterways based on our briefing for a future parliamentary debate in Westminster Hall. The meeting happened prior to Environment Agency’s announcement outlined above, but during the discussion Dr Coffey confirmed that she was still open to the transfer of EA waterways to CRT and this openness to further discussions has been confirmed subsequently by the Minister’s office. Dr Coffey showed particular interest in IWA’s management of a successful waterway, the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation, and welcomed gifts of a copy of the Imray map with IWA’s Waterway Directory included, and a copy of David Blagrove's book on the history of the Association.
Photo: Middle Level, Ramsey 40ft
The Middle Level Bill, which proposes the introduction of a registration system for boats on the Middle Level Navigations, has been before an ‘Opposed Bill Committee’ in Parliament. The Middle Level is a 120 mile system of drainage channels, 100 miles of which are navigable and most of which lie below mean sea level, in East Anglia, linking the rivers Nene and Great Ouse. The Middle Level Commissioners is the fourth largest Navigation Authority by waterway length in the country, but is not currently able to charge pleasure craft for using its waters.
The Opposed Bill Committee met on 15th to 17th January, in an historic room in the Palace of Westminster, overlooking the Thames. The Middle Level Commissioners put forward their case, that a registration system would both produce revenue to introduce and improve facilities for boaters, and ensure higher standards of safety and improved environmental protection. The Commissioners specifically committed to applying their best endeavours to “achieve at least IWA’s published minimum standards for the provision of facilities”. The Commissioners indicated that their target annual average registration fee to stay on the Middle Level would be £300 - £400 p.a. They also confirmed that they were planning on entering into reciprocal arrangements with other navigation authorities (meaning the current EA/CRT ‘gold licence’ arrangement would extend to the Middle Level) and the Bill provides that a formal Navigation Advisory Committee would be formed to advise the Commissioners on the exercise of their navigation functions.
IWA Eastern Region Chairman, Chris Howes, who moors on the Middle Level, appeared as a Witness in support of the Bill, and there were 5 objectors - known as ‘Petitioners’. Three of these Petitioners were private individuals, and the others appeared for March Cruising Club and the NBTA (National Bargee Travellers Association). It was notable that the 3 private petitioners and the Cruising Club representative, while stating that they objected in principle to the Bill, seemed more concerned to ensure that should the Bill become Law, it wouldn’t threaten boaters’ existing rights but instead potentially offer benefits.
The Petitioners were heard, and 15 amendments agreed, and added by Counsel to the Committee. The Committee of 4 voted that the Bill with amendments should proceed. It will now go ‘on deposit’ to allow Government departments time to check that it doesn’t conflict with any current policies, before it returns to the Commons for a Third Reading. If it proceeds through both the Commons and then the Lords, once it receives Royal Assent the MLC will then consult on the new Byelaws to be introduced.
Chris Howes commented “We’re all happy that compromises have been agreed, and that an amended version of the Bill will proceed. IWA looks forward to the Middle Level benefitting from the same protections and opportunities that other waterways enjoy across the rest of the country”.
Readers can find more details of the proceedings here.
Photo: Twechar Bridge, Forth & Clyde Canal Photographer: Phil Sharpe
IWA has told Scottish Canals that the current indefinite closure of the Forth & Clyde Canal is unacceptable. This follows the claim by Scottish Canals that it does not have the funds necessary to repair two lift bridges. IWA has written to Andrew Thin, Chairman of Scottish Canals, to ask him to identify budget and bring forward the repairs.
The two lift bridges, at Twechar and Bonnybridge, are situated around the middle of the Scottish lowlands canal, and their closure would affect all local traffic, the hire boat trade and any seagoing craft wishing to traverse the canal from one coast to the other.
The Forth & Clyde Canal was restored to navigation in 2001 following National Lottery funding as a Millennium project. IWA considers that in order for Scottish Canals to fulfil its statutory requirement as navigation authority to keep the restored lowland canals in full working order, repairs to these two bridges should be carried out as a matter of urgency.
IWA has raised the following issues with Scottish Canals, and has asked for everything to be done to keep the closures as short as possible:
IWA’s response to the Environment Agency’s consultation on its wider charges, which closed on 26th January, has been submitted and is now available to read on our website.
IWA wants to see the impact that the proposals would have on navigation authorities and restoration societies minimised, and has raised concerns over the increasingly complex application processes and the associated costs to navigation authorities and waterway restoration organisations.
IWA has also responded in detail to the questions about the future way of charging for navigation. This section of the consultation is duplicated in a separate consultation, which closes on 13th February, and which IWA would encourage people to respond to. The consultation can be found on EA’s website.
Photo: Historic boats Crick Festival
The 2018 Crick Boat Show will be held 26-28 May 2018 at Crick Marina near Daventry in Northamptonshire. For anyone who is considering buying a new or second-hand narrowboat or who has a general interest in boating there are over 300 inland waterways exhibitors plus free boat trips and other activities to make your visit a fun day out.
IWA has two stands at the show where we promote our current campaigns as well as encourage support for the Association through volunteering and membership. We will have a wide array of books and maps on sale so whether you are a member or not, come and take a look as every pound spent with us helps support our campaigning work. For tickets go to www.crickboatshow.com
For supporters who might like to help out on IWA's stand to promote our campaigns and raise money for the Association we can offer free entry to the Show. If you are interested in volunteering for this or any other of our Shows such as IWA Canalway Cavalcade or IWA Festival of Water please email Alicen.Stenner@waterways.org.uk
The 2018 Waterway Restoration Workshop, jointly run by IWA and CRT, is on Saturday 14th April at South Wolverhampton and Bilston Academy. This year’s theme is 'Restoring Confidence' and will include sessions on community engagement, safeguarding, running campaigns as well as technical seminars on dredging and engaging with major infrastructure projects. The full agenda can be viewed here.
This free training workshop is aimed at waterway restoration groups and supporting stakeholders and hopes to give volunteers support and information to assist in the development of their schemes. It is also a great opportunity for those passionate about waterway restoration to share and discuss ideas.
Click here to book your space at the workshop.
Photo: HRH Prince of Wales visits Wallbridge Lower Lock Photographer: Mike Gallagher, Cotswold Canals Trust
His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales visited Stroud on 2nd February to officially open the newly restored Wallbridge Lower Lock. The Lock has been the site of several WRG Canal Camps and weekend digs where the teams have worked alongside Stroud District Council and Cotswold Canals Trust volunteers.
Following a short journey on the Trust's trip boat Perseverance His Royal Highness unveiled a plaque commemorating the completion of canal restoration between Stonehouse and Thrupp and the reconnection of the Stroudwater Navigation and the Thames & Severn Canal.
The Boat Safety Scheme has announced a new four-year business plan to resource its work to 2022 and invest in improvements that will have an even longer-term benefit. The plan also includes the first price rise in certification charges for eight years. BSS Examiners will pay a new price of £36 (excluding VAT) for each certification they issue to a boat, which is a £7 (ex VAT) rise that they will likely choose to pass onto customers. The new price will apply from 1 April 2018 and the Scheme intends holding it for at least the whole of the four-year business plan period, which is designed to coincide with the four-year lifespan of BSS Certification.
Graham Watts, the BSS Manager said, ‘The Scheme’s track record on keeping to a business plan and controlling costs has been good with the resultant freeze in the BSS Certifications price for the last eight years, but having considered all options, a price change now cannot be avoided. Predicted inflationary pressures rising over the next four years means the BSS needs to invest in its information technology and training in order to maintain the efficiency gains we have already achieved. Above all, it’s critical to invest to help avoid the possibility of excessive inflation busting price rises in the business planning period beyond the next four years.’
The new BSS business plan includes additional support to BSS Examiners, projects to improve the quality of examinations and enhancements to customer service. The Scheme acknowledges that times are tough and boaters face other price increases associated with their boating activity, so we will remain committed to continued effectiveness and efficiency to hold down costs while delivering more results. Throughout the four-year business plan period boaters will see further investment in influencing boat owners’ behaviours, which is the key to keeping people safe from serious harm. The BSS will also continue to support research into the risks such as carbon monoxide, as it has tangible benefits for boaters, not least the sharing of the best quality safety advice in the most effective ways. Certification income represents almost 90% of the Scheme’s revenue all of which is invested into the work underpinning the BSS Examination service, risk research and review and the promotion of boat safety advice.
Whilst increased costs in boating are never popular, IWA welcomes the news that the new prices will be held for at least four years and acknowledges the good work that the Boat Safety Scheme carries out in making the waterways safer places for everyone that uses them.
Fenland District Council has announced that it is carrying out a survey about over-staying on visitor moorings in March and Whittlesey. This will affect all boaters who use the Middle Level Navigations, including those who will visit the Middle Level on their way to IWA’s Festival of Water at St Neots over the August Bank Holiday.
The Council is proposing that fines could be introduced for boats which overstay the time limits on the moorings. Access to the Council's moorings is free of charge for 36 hours, but last year several boats overstayed the restrictions in March for a considerable length of time.
Local residents and March Town Council raised the issue with Fenland District Council, which owns the moorings, as it prevented other boaters from being able to access the busy moorings and was having a potentially negative impact on tourism for the town and local businesses. The Council wishes to maintain the existing provision of a free 36 hour visitor mooring, but is proposing to follow it with a specified 'no-return' period for 48 hours.
Boaters overstaying the 36 hour limit will be logged and then fined for every 24 hours that they overstay, in a similar way that supermarkets manage car parks. This would be clearly signposted at the moorings and enforced by the Council.
The proposal comes after the Council investigated how other authorities with moorings manage the same issue of overstaying boats. It was clear that a bye-laws approach does not work, with authorities such as East Cambridgeshire District Council and Cambridge City Council also adopting a civil law approach.
Cllr Peter Murphy, Fenland District Council's Portfolio Holder for Environment, said: "Unfortunately there were a number of boats which ignored the mooring bye-laws last year. This new approach is intended to balance the need for a regular turnover of boaters, whilst allowing an adequate length of stay for boaters to enjoy the facilities and visitor attractions that Fenland has to offer. We'd like to hear the views of river users regarding this approach and putting a more robust scheme in place to prevent the overstaying problem this spring and summer."
IWA welcomes Fenland District Council’s intention to put a plan in place to resolve the problems of overstaying on the visitor moorings in March and Whittlesey, and would encourage all those who use the Middle Level Navigations, and those who anticipate doing so in 2018, to respond to the Council’s consultation. View the consultation documents here.
The consultation starts on Monday, January 22, and runs until Monday, February 26. If agreed, the new management scheme would come into force on April 1.
Recent comments by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, have focused media attention on the contribution of boats on inland waterways to overall levels of pollution. This has prompted IWA to produce a new briefing note to provide background information and guidance to boaters about ways to minimise pollution and have less impact on the environment. The briefing note includes some useful advice on solid fuel and wood-burning stoves, and the pros and cons of diesel versus electric propulsion and power generation. The briefing note can be found here.
Photo: New Navigation Committee chairman, Steve Warwicker, sporting an IWA fleece
We have extended our clothing range to include three new colours. We now have red, green and navy items including polo shirts, sweatshirts and fleeces all made with high quality materials that wash well. We would love you to show off our new look whilst promoting the IWA message.
We are trying to work out how to improve IWA’s website and make it as accessible and useful as possible. In the first instance we would be very grateful if you could complete this short survey to tell us more about how you use the site. Armed with this information we hope to understand better what improvements could be made and identify what developments you might hope to see in future.
Complete our website survey now
Blowers Green Pumphouse - Dudley Canal
Photo: Blowers Green Pumphouse
As a result of campaigning by the branch as well as other organisations and individuals, CRT has backed down on its plans to sell off the building known as Blowers Green Pumphouse on the Dudley Canal.
The branch was among many who responded to the public notice dated 20th December 2017 which appeared on the building and advertised the proposed sale of the building. As well as confirming that it had always been their intention that the boaters’ facilities would be retained, CRT has now withdrawn the building from sale while they consider whether offering a long lease of the property, rather than disposing of their freehold interest, might be a better solution and give greater control over the future use and maintenance of the property.
A ton bag of gravel plonked in the middle of the recently-cleared blackberry bush greeted the arrival of volunteers at lock 7. Work on squaring up the path, dug last month, to the raised bed and garden on the off-side was ongoing by 10am. Good old wheel-barrowing eventually had all the stone across the footbridge and spread artistically to the front of the bed and garden edge. In the meantime an intrepid team braved new horizons and litter picked the towpath towards lock 8, speculating on the mass of stuff further back in the bushes fronting the supermarket. Old haunts were re-visited by a litter pick towards lock 4 and by the time the rain did arrive after lunch the jobs were almost all done.
Brain of Monty
IWA Shrewsbury District & North Wales Branch is supporting the 'RESTORE THE MONTGOMERY CANAL!' campaign and has the latest version of the Brain of Monty 2018 quiz for sale. Apart from the prestige of winning the coveted title of 'Brain of Monty 2018' entrants could also win a £25 prize. Every question has MONT in the answer somewhere, for example a 'Swashbuckling hero' is the Count of Monte Cristo. Easy? Why not give it a go? For just £1 you could have hours of fun working out the MONT answers. Or for £5 keep one copy and sell the rest to friends and neighbours.
Further details on www.restorethemontgomerycanal.uk
Easter Campaign Cruise
Boaters are invited to support the campaigning work of Peterborough Branch and join fellow activists on a worthwhile, friendly campaign cruise to review facilities and mooring availability in the local area.
The proposed itinerary is as follows.
Anyone wishing to join the cruise should contact Alastair Chambers - firstname.lastname@example.org
IWA is organised through a network of eight Regions and 33 Branches across the country. To find a Branch near you click on this link which will take you to information about the Branches, their newsletters, contacts and the local waterways in their area.
To find out what branch activities and working parties are going on in your area have a look at IWA's events calendar. By volunteering for these clean up events you can make a big difference to your local waterway. You can also search by event type or find out what's going in on your area with the map search.
To advertise your restoration/cleanup events in the bulletin please add details to IWA's events calendar
The following special offers are now available exclusively for IWA members:
ABC Boat Hire - 15% discount on holidays (Direct Bookings Only)
Blackwater Boats, Essex CO4 5HF - 10% discount off boat trips
CanalCruising.co.uk - 10% discount
Canal Boat Magazine - 5 issues for £5.00
City Centre Cruises - 10% discount for Sunday lunch cruises
Frangipani SUP Ltd - 10% discount
Jenny Wren, London NW1 8QS - 10% discount off cruises
Middlewich Narrowboats - 25% discount off hire price of Willow
Wyvern Shipping Co. Ltd- 10% discount on published prices
Bounty Pub, Bourne End SL8 5RG - 10% discount off food
Clifford Arms, Staffordshire ST18 0SR - 10% discount off food
Fingerpost Pub & Restaurant, Pelsall WS3 5AU - 10% discount off food
Kings Lock Tearooms, Leicester LE2 8LT - 10% discount off food
Waterside Inn Leamington Spa, CV31 3JZ - 15% discount on food from main menu
Ring 'O Bells Pub, Marple SK6 7AY - 10% discount off food
Three Locks Pub, Soulbury, Stoke Hammond MK17 9DD - 10% discount off food
Wharf Pub, Bugbrooke NN7 3QB - 10% discount
Boatshed Grand Union - 10% discount on brokerage
Boat Windows Ltd - 5% discount
Calcutt Boats - 5% online discount
Channel Glaze - 10% discount on double glazing
Cotswold Outdoor - 10% discount
IceGripper - 20% Discount on ICEtrekkers Diamond Grip
Kings Lock Chandlery – 5% discount on purchases excluding all fuels (diesel, gas, coal, wood, etc)
Marine Mega Store Ltd - 15% discount
Midland Chandlers - 5% discount
RoadPro- 5% discount
Solar Technology International- 10% discount on PV Logic Narrow Boat Kits & Foldup Panels
Willowbridge Marina - 10% discount on chandlery purchases and services in the yard
Zead - Free Postage & Accessories
Europcar - Special hire rates to IWA members
Forge Studio - 10% discount
Harbour Clean - 10% discount
I Love Meet and Greet Ltd - 15% discount
Lee Sanitation - 10% on orders over £100
Paper Wizard - 15% discount
River Canal Rescue - up to 15% discount
Wavetrain Marine - 5% discount on selected training
Please note: All discounts and offers are entirely at the organisers' discretion.
To see details of how to take advantage of these offers, please go to the IWA Members discount page.
For IWA members who receive a printed copy of this bulletin in the post, please contact the membership team on 01494 783453 for the details of the offers.
Members can also support IWA with a Narrow Boat magazine subscription
IWA has an arrangement with insurers Navigators & General and River Canal Rescue that provides top quality boat insurance and access to the basic waterway rescue service for boat owners, with the added benefit that every policy taken out and subsequently renewed helps IWA, and thus furthers our charitable work for the waterways.
See more information about the IWA insurance scheme for boaters
It is so easy to do your shopping via easyfundraising. Every time you do, a percentage will be donated to IWA and it will cost you absolutely nothing extra.
There are over 3,100 shops and sites for you to browse and buy through on the easyfundraising site. Usually the thing that stops people raising money in this way for their favourite charity is that they simply forget. Since we launched IWA onto easyfundraising we have raised over £1000 so it is a brilliant way to support IWA. Find out more about easyfundraising.
How to remind yourself to raise money for IWA via easyfundraising:
By using the app, the reminder toolbar or shopping through the easyfundraising site, you can help IWA raise hundreds and hopefully thousands of pounds.
IWA Head Office, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham, HP5 1WA
01494 783 453