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Editorial

From the Middle Level to the high seas

Editor, Peter Fellows has a diverse edition for Spring.

I was pleased to see that CRT has suspended the sale of the freehold to Blowers Green Pumphouse (see January’s NABO News), but wish that the relevant advisory groups could review such proposals before they go ahead. CRT has published the results of its licensing consultation, reviewed by Mark Tizard. Most narrowboaters will have to pay about 5% more for their licences year-on-year, so the exercise was not exactly ‘revenue-neutral’ – at least not for boaters. Widebeam owners will have to pay more, but not as much as many feared. During the review, many boaters didn’t see the need for any changes, so with no majority agreement to change anything much, CRT can claim to have listened to its ‘customers’. However, it is difficult to see how the outcome will reduce CRT’s licensing costs, as the system now seems to be more complicated, rather than the intended simplification.

The Middle Level Bill is making its way through Parliament and, at the time of writing, it is with The Lords for further discussion. NABO was the only boating organisation to make objections to the Bill, as described by Mike Rodd, which has raised the Association’s profile.  Mike also reports on discussions of the failure of CRT to take over EA waters at a recent National Inland Navigation Forum meeting, where again NABO was alone in not supporting the takeover.

I have introduced a new feature in Techies’ Corner, in which Tony Brooks has offered to answer members’ technical queries. Of course, this will only work if members send him questions, so please let me have them ‒ on any problem ‒ and I will forward them onto Tony. Stella Ridgway has followed up her article on Bugsworth (NABO News, Winter 2017) with a look at nearby New Mills. There are two reports from NABO regional reps. in this issue: Howard Anguish reports on a North East forum and David Fletcher summarises the goings-on in the North West and Borders. Howard has also reviewed NABO’s concerns in 2003 for the Rewind column. David questions whether a lock cottage rebuild is conservation or vandalism, and he also shares his recent experience of sailing the high seas on the Queen Mary 2. I have included some tips on crime prevention that members may not have considered before and Alison Tuck looks at the increasing numbers of rented boats and concerns about the safety of tenants. Finally, as we went to press, there has been a major breach on the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union, which, together with the continued closure of the Marple Flight until early May at the earliest and work continuing on the Bosley Flight, this will seriously affect boating in that area for months to come.