At its most recent meeting at the end of November, NABO Council agreed to formally endorse the Key Points in the Boaters Manifesto. NABO Vice Chair, Simon Robbins said:
“We are pleased to see that an independent group of boaters shares broadly the same concerns as we identified in our formal submission to DEFRA during the Summer, about ensuring that navigation remains a central element in the proposed Canal and River Trust.
“Boaters represent one of the core funders of the navigable waterways and this will continue for the foreseeable future. Apart from the direct fees paid to BW we contribute substantially to BW’s commercial income through the services we buy from waterside businesses.
“The Transition Trustees are clearly anxious to identify new funding streams for the new Charity and this is an aspiration that boaters and representative groups have consistently lobbied for over many years.
“However, many boaters feel that our interests as a major existing stakeholder may be sidelined. We hope that the Transition Trustees will not overlook the fact that on a conservative estimate over 20% of BW’s annual income comes from boaters’ pockets. Boaters represent a committed group of long term shareholders in the waterways and many feel that we need to be embraced rather than, as it sometimes feels under British Waterways, simply being taken for granted.
“The news subsequent to our Council meeting that there may be a meeting between supporters of the Manifesto and Transition Trustees is encouraging. We are conscious that NABO are regarded by some as being among the ‘usual suspects’ in these matters and think it is important that other boaters express their concerns too.”
NABO Vice Chair
A - Boater’s Manifesto - Key Points
1. Waterways are about boats and boaters and the Canal and River Trust needs to listen to boaters more closely and have more representatives on the board.
2. Before the Canal and River Trust accepts the legal burden of running the waterways it must ensure proper funding to keep all waterways open, navigable and properly maintained, otherwise it should refuse to do so.
3. Boaters have lost faith in the most senior management of British Waterways and believe that the government should accept the cost of making them redundant to give the Canal and River Trust a fresh start.
4. The Canal and River Trust must develop a system of working that values full time paid staff and their skills above the expediency of using cheap contractors in order to maintain the skilled workforce the waterways require.
5. The Canal and River Trust must enforce a simplified set of mooring rules across the entire waterways system without fear or favour.
6. The Trust must make it a priority to ensure non-boating users of the system make a financial contribution to its upkeep and that their use of the system does not impinge on its primary purpose of navigation.
7. The Canal and River Trust must ensure it is open to Freedom of Information Act requests and operate in a totally transparent fashion if it is to earn and retain confidence.
8. Those for whom the waterways are a home have a special interest in and value to the Canal and River Trust and should be clearly represented at board level and consulted on all navigational issues.
B - NABO’s submission to DEFRA
NABO’s submission to DEFRA on the then New Waterways Charity (NWC) can be viewed from: