This is my manifesto about why I seek boaters' support in the 2012 elections to the Canal and River Trust Council. See the video here.
At a conference in the Autum I questionned Tony Hales, the Chairman of the CRT Interim Trustees, about the seven from thirty-five Council members whose major interest is the navigation of the Trust's waterways, and us being so heavily outnumbered by the peripheral interests such a cycling, fishing, heritage, wildlife etc. It is boats navigating the system that make us distinct from a set of disconnected duckponds, on which all those others could just as easily pursue their interests.
He had three answers for me: firstly that boaters are the largest group on the Council - which made my point about still being in a small minority - and secondly that the only formal duty of the Council is to appoint, and if it wishes, dismiss the trustees. Thirdly that all of the Council are there to support the Waterways and will have the essential character of them in their DNA. Let's hope he is right about the last point.
Let's turn the weakness of our small representation to advantage. The CRT trustees are negotiating the ten-year financial settlement with the Government: all indications are that it will be woefully inadequate. The trustees will be under pressure from all sides to come to a conclusion: their collective backbone can be stiffened by knowing their own conversion from 'interim' to 'permanent' trustees should depend on the Council being convinced of the long-term viability of the settlement they agree. The Government has decided the composition of Council to reflect broad interests of Waterway users, and Government needs to avoid its own independent body declining to reappoint the trustees.
In the longer term, we need better management of the Waterways from less available money. Let's prioritise what we need, and measure how well the job is done. Above other issues, boaters need the canals to be open, and over recent years, there have been many creeping closures and restrictions that make it more difficult to take a boat on a trip; it seems that BW management find it easier to manage a closed canal, even if only temoprarily closed, and there is nothing in their internal management performance measurement to encourage options that keep the system open.
There are a number of articles I have written over the last year about the new Canal and River Trust in purple and those about BW management of the canals in red. An overview of how Elaine and I boat around the system is in green. Here are some quick links to my articles below; Boaters' Elections, Charity Transition, Stewardship, Councillors, Knowing The Customers, ... is falling down, 1000-mile Years, Misty Mornings
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