Chairman’s column, NABO News 4, July 2013
Last month I mentioned the concern felt by NABO Council about the legality of some of CRT’s proposals on the Southern Grand Union. Since then a NABO team has met our legal advisors and reviewed the issues again. The advice to us is that nothing has changed and the Counsel’s written opinion from 2005 and 2009 is as valid today as it was at the time of writing. NABO has consistently used this content in guidance and opinion to BW/CRT in the various consultations and correspondence in which we have engaged over the years, most recently for the SE mooring review. It is a cause of frustration to me and Council that we have been unable to get clarity from CRT on several legal issues and all we get from them is the 1962 Act ‘as they think fit’. In recent years a few brave boaters have taken on BW: Nigel Moore for example, and we can see that BW has been found legally fallible in that case at some considerable cost. I do not imply that CRT has no powers to enforce the 1995 Act, indeed NABO has always called for its application and regretted the dearth of cases. This is both because of the obvious need and the lack of case interpretation for all parties to understand.
It is the ‘add on’ features, either in Terms and Conditions or the mooring proposals, which are controversial to us. CRT lawyers should not have the sole view on these matters. Our Counsel is just as expensive as CRT’s and they have a different view on some issues. It is most unlikely that NABO will ever take CRT to court; we do not have the resources or the status to do so. We have to find other ways, but it is clear that normal correspondence and doing the ‘right thing’ in consultations simply does not work. I think we have to be a little, how shall I put it, irksome? It is a great shame that we have reached this point on boater rights, when there is so much to support in the fledgling CRT and members are working hard to do this. But boater rights are at stake.
Turning to internal matters, I have to tell you that Andy Colyer has resigned from the Council due to work and family commitments. He will remain as Southern Secretary, looking after key issues on the K&A. Andy has served on Council for many years and we are very grateful for his wise input and support for the Association. In recent times, he attended many of the MSSL meetings and his knowledge of the waterways and the personalities contributed significantly to making the progress that it did. Thank you Andy.
It gives me great pleasure to congratulate Philip Ogden, a member since 1992 and active in various roles, who has recently celebrated his centenary. He is currently our Assistant for the Disabled and he maintains an interest in the canals, living on the north end of the Grand Union. He still gets afloat from time to time. Please join me in wishing him well.
Since April when subscription rates were increased, membership renewals have become problematic. Our Treasurer warned us from experience of previous increases that this would be a difficult period, and he was right, because members are failing to amend standing orders and attempting renewals at the old rate. Both Melanie and I have spent many hours trying to stay on top of this. We used a new mailing system to email members to remind them, and my thanks to those who have responded. But we have a long way to go. Please, please read the notes elsewhere in this issue, and if they apply to you, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.
Having experimented with membership mails, I want to restart NABO bulletins to all members. This is not intended to compete with NABO News, but rather to tell members what Association officers are doing for you. There will be no essays on policy, just one-liners on this and that. If we don’t have your email address, then you will not get it, and there are 250 members in this group. Are you one of them?
A Good NAG
I attended another CRT Navigation Advisory Group meeting this week. There were five hours of constructive discussion and work on navigation issues, with experienced boaters giving input to listening CRT staff. Discussions included boater safety issues, HS1 and 2 impacts and progress, strong-stream warnings, out of hours phone numbers and responses, and of course pump-outs. It is really good to have a dedicated venue where boaters can spend time on navigation issues and make a contribution to the running of the system. I approve.
Val and I will be moving our boat from the east end of the T&M to the Shroppie during the summer. I hope to see many of you on the water.