On 15 November NABO Chairman David Fletcher and Council Members Mike Rodd and Mark Tizard met with Richard Parry, the Canal and River Trust’s CEO, at their Milton Keynes offices. The meeting was a good opportunity for us to give Richard an overview of NABO and its recent history of engagement with BW/CRT, and he attended the AGM in Wolverhampton on the following day.
It was explained that NABO was fully supportive of most of CRT's strategies and this was reinforced by NABO representation on many Boat Safety Scheme (BSS) and other committees, including the Navigation Advisory Group (NAG) and Users Forums. However, there will be times when we might disagree, or possibly fail to understand, CRT actions and we will always continue to advance reasoned arguments to illustrate our disagreements.
We welcomed Richard’s commitment to openness and transparency and we pointed out that we felt that communications often have been constrained in the past, and we hoped this would improve. We briefly discussed the two consultations on moorings that had taken place since CRT's formation, on the South East Visitor Moorings and the Kennet & Avon Towpath Moorings. In the latter case we highlighted an issue that we had met with in the past in that a consultation started by saying that the proposals mentioned were going to happen anyway, effectively indicating that comments were seen to be of little value. We also pointed out that NABO had in the past attempted to raise some aspects of the legal advice that we had received which that challenged the potential legality of some of the recent CRT initiatives. However, our views had been largely ignored. On this issue we were delighted that Richard agreed that a meeting be set up between the CRT and NABO legal teams to review the advice that we had received. This is a very welcomed initiative.
We mentioned that there was considerable engineering and managerial expertise that existed within the NABO membership and that this could be harnessed should CRT seek to engage and communicate with us: We hoped that his arrival could lead to a greater level of openness and communication between our organisations.
We were impressed with the new CEO's willingness to listen and we hope that his drive for communication and engagement can trickle down and inform his management team.
We wish him well in his challenging new role!