The National Inland Navigation Forum, NINF, met at the St Pancras Cruising Club on Saturday 25th February 2017. 8 of it 11 member bodies were represented, together with the General Secretary, Michael Stimpson. This Forum continues to be a useful meeting point bringing together navigational bodies involved in CRT, EA and other waterways – especially important at this time given the possible convergent of EA and CRT!
In the AGM, the General Secretary, Michael Stimpson, reported that the Forum’s finances were sound and he was unanimously re-appointed to his position.
There was naturally much discussion surrounded the issues relating to the possibility of the EA’s navigational responsibilities being taken over by CRT. Of importance was the report from the recent Thames User Groups’ meeting where Richard Parry had said that “providing all the facts come together, we have to move to a position when together with James Beavan CEO he goes to Defra to gain acceptance ‘in principle’ as it is already costing significant sums of money to effect the investigation and it would be wasted if it does not proceed.” He had hoped this would have happened before the end of last year but there still was no progress.
It was felt that the best NINF could do now was to use all its political contacts to urge the Minister responsible to end the uncertainly!! Michael Stimpson would also write to Richard Parry and ask what else NINF could do to help move things on.
The possibility of expanding the towpath through the Edgbaston tunnel, at the cost of narrowing the navigation, was extensively discussed. It was felt by most that this was yet more evidence of CRT bowing to non-boater’s needs and ignoring those of boaters; and also of not protecting the heritage of the our canals. However, the financial realties were recognized!
There was also much discussion on the concerns about EA closing some of their waterways due to “safety concerns”. The meeting noted the IWA campaign relating to this and requested all members to discuss the matter with their Councils. It was pointed out, though, that the 3 cases cited by IWA, although of concern, were well known and had been in serious trouble for some years now.
The changes to the hire code BSS requirements were reported on and welcomed. It was emphasised though that there were still on-going issues relating to hire boat handover procedures not always being effective.
Finally, the issue relating to the charging reviews being undertaken by both EA and CRT were briefly mentioned and all member organisations urged to get involved.