NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BOAT OWNERS

Listening to boat owners, Speaking out for boat owners, Representing boat owners.

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Worcs and B’ham stoppages

 

Birmingham University train station is undergoing redevelopment, which requires a series of 29-hour closures of the canal and towpath. This is to enable large sections of the station building framework and canal footbridge to be lifted across the canal. The stoppages will be between 00.30 on Sundays and 05.00 on Mondays on the following dates: 27th – 28th June; 4th – 5th July; 8th – 9th August; 5th – 6th September; 26th – 27th September; and 3rd – 4th October. To minimise the effect of the closures, there will be two windows in which the canal will be opened to allow boats to pass through the site. These will be 12.00-13.00 and 16.00-17.00 on each Sunday.

London moorings strategy – a London boater’s perspective

Simon Robbins concludes that limited progress has been made.

NABO’s response to the London congestion consultation was that CRT is seeking to introduce new changes without first implementing, and assessing the impact of, the changes promised in the 2018 strategy. Here, Simon, a former NABO Council member and London liveaboard boater, reports in detail on what has actually been achieved.

In 2012, arising out of the huge displacement of boats from East London for the Olympics, and the less than sensitive approach by BW/CRT to dealing with that, came the ‘Better Relationships Group’. The name reflected the fact that even BW recognised it had upset a lot of boaters along the way and now wanted to be seen to be trying to build bridges, coincidentally coinciding with the launch of Canal and River Trust. That group lumbered on painfully, with relationships barely improving for many months, reported in 2014 and then nothing much happened.

In 2013 the Greater London Authority became involved through Jenny (now Baroness) Jones, and the GLA produced the ‘Moor or Less’ report. This was a genuinely independent report which highlighted the need for improvements in facilities for boaters on the London Waterways.

CRT then went round the circle again, eventually launching the London Moorings Strategy, starting in 2016. The final report was finally published in summer 2018. So, to the present: in late autumn 2020, CRT announced a new consultation on London Boating based around the Moorings Strategy. Awkward git that I am, I wrote to CRT asking how much of the existing 2018 Strategy had been implemented. In mid-February, a few days shy of four months after asking, and after the consultation meetings, CRT finally disclosed its assessment of how much of the 2018 Moorings Strategy it has implemented so far.  Here we go!

The debate over the eco-toilet rolls on

- says enthusiast Helen Hutt.

Let me firstly declare, I’m a fan of eco-toilets. As a continuous cruiser, I bought one in 2009. Every two months or so, I emptied my poo pot into a 10-litre paint tub with a tight-fitting lid until I could dispose of the contents, using a network of amenable farmers’ muck heaps and friends with garden compost bins. Never, ever, would I have considered ‘bagging and binning’ it!

There weren’t many of us back then and, indeed, we were considered a bit strange. But the idea caught on and at some point, I think around 2017, someone asked CRT how they could dispose of their solid waste. CRT rightly advised it could be bagged and binned – and unfortunately that resulted in a surge of interest from boaters who had previously thought disposal was an insurmountable issue. You know how the story has unfolded from there!

Lockdown guidance

Following the Government’s announcement on 4th January of a national lockdown for England, the EA issued the following updated guidance for boaters:

All navigation on EA waterways should be limited to essential travel only.

Travel on waterways and overnight stays are only permitted where the boat is your permanent residence or it is necessary for work, education or similar reasons. Those who live aboard should limit their travel to access essential services and facilities. Some activities using unpowered boats are permitted as part of daily exercise, limited to once a day and within the Government guidance for exercise.

  • There will be no assisted passage on the River Thames and all locks will remain on public power.
  • There will be no charge or time limit at any EA moorings.
  • There will be no charge for pump-outs.
  • The cleaning contract for public toilets is extended until the end of March so that they can remain open. At sites that are not included in the contract, the toilets will remain closed.
  • There will be no cash handling at any EA sites.

Updated information is available at www.gov.uk/government/organisations/environment-agency.

 

CRT reported: the rules and the impact on boating are largely the same as for the first lockdown last year. All navigation in England and Wales should be limited to essential use only. If you are not occupying your boat you should not take overnight stays on it during this period. Those living aboard are advised to move only a minimal amount to access essential facilities or services. CRT will keep all its facilities open, but there might be closer private facilities that will reduce the distance you need to travel. If an essential journey requires passage through a staffed structure you will need to book well in advance to ensure CRT can facilitate passage. The requirement to move every 14 days is suspended until the restrictions come to an end. If you are self-isolating and don’t have any support networks, get in touch via CRT’s website (https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/contact-us/ways-to-contact-us) or contact your local boat licence support team (https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/enjoy-the-waterways/boating/buy-your-boat-licence/boat-licence-customer-support-team).

The waterways and ‘building back better’

Helen Hutt reports on a Zoom meeting of The All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Waterways in December.

This was my first experience of the APPWG and it was more interesting than anticipated! Chaired by Michael Fabricant MP, there were three good presentations from Richard Parry, CRT; Adrian Main, Avon Navigation Trust; and John Packham, Broads Authority, all focussing very much on widening the appeal of the waterways and all emphasising how much more money is required to keep them in good shape!

I didn’t get to ask any questions, not surprisingly, but this seems to be a good forum if you can get to the right person. Here’s a short selection:

Lord Dolar Popat asked, on behalf of a constituent, why Cumberland Basin on the Regent’s Canal had not been dredged despite numerous promises. Richard Parry gave no real answer in my view, but he was definitely put on the spot.

Tony Lloyd MP raised the issue of vandalism; it was generally agreed that getting more people to use and love the waterways (initiatives like ‘Let’s Fish’) was helping to combat this.

Lord Bradshaw said that with new housing in the Thames Valley there would be water shortages; the proposal is to install a Severn-Thames pipeline, but he asked whether the Cotswold Canal could be completed and used instead, with many additional benefits. Michael Fabricant thought this should be the topic of another meeting.

Canal blogger, Andrew Denny, asked what was happening with shortage of water on the Rochdale Canal and the potential opening of the Rochdale Town Arm. Richard Parry explained the challenges and hoped the canal would re-open before next summer; he and Tony Lloyd agreed to discuss the Arm project separately.

Roger Stocker of British Cycling commented on the lack of diversity on the waterways (ironic considering all those at the meeting except me were men, mostly white and of a certain age!).