You are all aware of the shortage of refills for Calor gas bottles, particularly in the last year. Calor has put the shortage down to record demand for cylinders due to lockdowns, warm weather, the boom in staycations, and the associated shortage of cylinders. Yet we also see that waterside Calor dealers have a stock of empty bottles that are not being collected. We are told of continuing concerns with the uncertainty of supply, and short or cancelled deliveries being the normal for some retailers. We don’t think that Calor is doing enough to use the available bottles in circulation, and it is abusing its self-created monopoly position on the inland waterways.
We have written to Calor asking them to prioritise the supply of bottled gas to inland waterway stockists, but they have chosen not to reply. We have therefore asked the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) to investigate Calor Gas, and its imposed dominance of the waterways market. Calor has an effective monopoly because many boaters do not have transport to find alternatives. The CMA has found it necessary to investigate Calor in the past.
David Fletcher explains the new Examination Check Procedures.
The BSS team members are on a campaign at the moment to improve the consistency and quality of the examinations. We are all familiar with the discussions about how my boat passed last time, so why has it failed now? These events do nothing to improve the confidence of boaters, and they don’t improve the confidence of the navigation authorities (NAs) either. They are worried. We should not forget that the BSS examination has only an incidental role in the boat owner’s safety (the so called ‘first party risk’). For NAs it is about making sure that all the boats they have licenced are not a danger to others. This in the NAs’ duty of care. The statistics show that a third of boats fail their BSS examinations. The actual number is probably higher, because some failure points are fixed at the time and are not recorded. It is not a good picture.
This has been a bumper couple of months for CRT’s finances. By quietly auctioning off four more listed properties, including two in London, they have another £4m in the coffers to spend, who knows on what? I do hope it’s for more of those tacky blue and white signs.
I wonder how the sale of the Top Lock Cottage at Tardebigge got past CRT’s Heritage Impact Assessment. Presumably the fact that this was where Tom Rolt and Robert Aickman met on nb Cressy, leading to the formation of the IWA, had no ‘impact’ on their decision. You’d have thought the IWA might have objected to the sale for this reason alone. Never mind, there’s still a plaque there marking the spot.
And then there’s Bugeddin. Listed it might be but there are ways around that protection for anyone with the knowledge and money to persist. Who knows, it may end up looking like this wonderfully enhanced lock cottage we found on our travels. Better by water? Hunt the cottage…
The project’s aim is to divert water from Minworth Waste Water Treatment Facility, which normally flows into the River Tame and on to the Trent/Humber and out to sea, and transfer it to the South East where water is in short supply. Using the Grand Union Canal as a conduit for this is one of several schemes being evaluated. Water would be taken by pipeline (two possible routes) to join the canal near Braunston. It would then be abstracted in Hertfordshire: possible locations are Leighton Buzzard, Tring or Hemel Hempstead. The EA favours Leighton Buzzard so that water is not taken over the Tring summit as apparently this could adversely affect chalk streams in the area.
The project also aims to improve biodiversity, could tackle the problem of invasive species etc. For example, zander and signal crayfish are prevalent in some parts and their spread must be avoided. The whole canal will be surveyed, pound by pound, to inform calculations of flow and how a slight increase in water level might affect boating (e.g. under low bridges).
The project group needs local information from other parties to flag up any constraints they might face. I suggested that they contact boat clubs; their members will be aware not just of boating issues but also be representatives of local communities. They may also be able to identify other opportunities for improvement (e.g. to towpaths). If members who are particularly familiar with the GU between Braunston and Tring know of any issues that the project leaders should take into consideration, please let me know and I will pass them on.
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