Canal & River Trust

NABO meets CRT

Mark Tizard reports on a recent meeting with CRT’s Head of Customer Services.

On Wednesday 29 April, Mike Rodd and I met with Ian Rogers and we had a good, open exchange of views. Slightly tongue-in-cheek, we opened the meeting by thanking CRT for contributing to a surge in new members over the last couple of months! We covered a range of subjects and I've highlighted the key areas below:

Terms and Conditions

We acknowledged the changes that CRT had made to the terms and conditions, largely as a result of NABO’s feedback. We made the point that, as an organisation, we wanted well-written and easily understood terms and conditions, and we were surprised that CRT had not chosen to consult with boating organisations to help it get this right. The fact that the proposed terms and conditions have now been revised as a result of our representations made this clear. We reiterated that, in our view, some of the advice for those with home moorings, for example, was just plain wrong and went beyond CRT’s legal powers.

Enforcement

Ian stated that CRT’s aim was to get boaters to move within a reasonable range to enable the maximum number of boats to enjoy the waterways - and not to remove boats from the canal system. The focus is very much on the boats that have either not moved or hardly moved, and CRT will be robust in its approach. So far, a substantial number of boats that were being offered only a 3-month licence extension from May had not renewed their licences. CRT will be managing the follow-up process externally via their legal advisors for those that do not renew licences.

We queried whether and how winter moorings would affect required movement patterns and we were advised that the availability of winter moorings in the future was currently under review. It was therefore unclear how those boaters who were only granted shorter licences would be affected, but the expectation was that winter moorings would only be available to boaters who were in possession of full 12-month licences.

CRT wants to be seen to be reasonable in dealing with those boaters who have a genuine hardship, breakdown or illness, but evidence may be required if this is only reported towards the end of a licence period after a pattern of non-movement. 

Meetings 

There was agreement that the meetings of boating associations achieved little as they are currently set up, and we discussed using them as briefing sessions, or for CRT to discuss a specific issue. It was agreed that the views of the other associations would be sought. Separately, it was agreed that we would hold regular one-to-one meetings with Ian or other CRT managers when we had issues that we wanted to raise.

Ombudsman 

We queried whether, to ensure the independence of the Ombudsman, the Ombudsman's Committee would contain some boating members who were not appointed by CRT. Ian undertook to look into this as he was unaware of the details.

Support

We reiterated the wealth of experience that exists within NABO and hoped that CRT would consider engaging with us in advance of major changes in future.