North East Partnership – Annual Public Meeting,
CRT Offices, Fearns Wharf, Leeds
27th November 2014
This was the second Annual Meeting of the NE Partnership, introduced jointly by the NE Manager – Jon Horsefal, and the Partnership Chairman, Mark Penny.
The NE Partnership has drawn up a wide ranging Action Plan showing 7 key Actions which will be progressed over the next 3 years. They include:
· 3 Restoration Schemes – Pocklington Canal, Rother Valley Link & Barnsley & Dove Canal
· Academic work with universities locally
· Promotion of Waterway Destinations in the area
· Commercial Animation of the waterways - Freight, Social Enterprise and Work Based Learning
· Community Engagement focussed on Leeds and Kirklees
· Increase Leisure Activity on the waterways – Angling, Non-powered craft, and canoe shoots on new/redeveloped canal structures.
· Act as a knowledge transfer hub, adjoining waterway partnership, Hydro citizenship (relationship between communities and their water based environment
We were given a series of presentations, given, in the main, not by partnership members, but organisation that work with the partnership, so that the audience could see how much progress had been made since the Partnership was set up. In my opinion, the most positive report was given by David Lowe – NE Partnership member and Chair of the CBOA. Although he represents the interests of both leisure and freight his presentation concentrated mainly on freight, with commenting on a number of projects which, if successful, would bring a resurgence of freight carrying on the NE waterways. This area has always been among the top 4 freight orientated areas within the waterway network, and he appears confident that some of the projects outlined would be successful. On the leisure boating side he touched briefly on the success which the Partnership, in conjunction with Aire Action Leeds, is leading to better mooring provision and other facilities for boaters who might like to come to Leeds.
Other presentations included a report outlining the National Angling Strategy, which will be pioneered though a trial scheme in the North East, including the possibility of an International Angling Competition.
Groundwork NE Tees gave a video presentation about the regeneration of the Tees Valley, which has been inclusive to many local groups and is very active.
Leeds University is now actively involved with the NE Partnership and currently is looking at ways in which the Water @ Leeds University and the Partnership can work together with mutual benefit to all waterway users.
A good proportion of the time was given to networking before a final Q&A session. Unfortunately, this turned into discussion of local issues more suited to a customer forum.
However, the presentations seemed to be generally well received, although the cynics among us (not me of course!) would say that there was a lot of “We intend, we hope to…” rather than “We have done”.