CRT Elected Boaters Meeting notes
I attended a CRT Elected Boaters Representatives meeting last Wednesday at their new Aqua House offices in Lionel St, Birmingham, almost immediately below the BT Tower.
The following is a very brief summary of the key take away's I noted down:
Sean Williams offered an insight into his work managing the Welfare side of the Trust. His department mainly offers a signposting service, putting boaters experiencing difficulties in touch with appropriate agencies. The main populations he helps are those with licensing issues, age related issued, mental health issues and money issues.
He explained how the Trust approached Equality adjustments and highlighted their close working relationship with the network of Waterways Chaplains, who they clearly value a lot.
Their main aim to empower those with problems to continue to boat and they focus on the high risk cases where there is a real risk of a boat / home being taken out of the water.
To put this little known aspect of the Trusts work in context, Sean accepts about 20 direct referrals per month and they handle about 170 vulnerable cases pa.
One of their greatest challenges is to identify those in need of support, apart from the obvious licensing issues.
Vegetation and Dredging management
This is part of asset management and works closely with two NAG's.
A particular focus is offside vegetation management which is suffering from a historic backlog and whilst more money is being spent, it will take some time to get to a satisfactory situation. The thought is that if contractors can break the back of it the volunteers can help keep on top of things.
Dredging prioritisation was discussed and the Peak Forest used as an example where 90% of the profiles were sub standard but due to low boat numbers it is not a priority waterway. Overall £8m of the Trusts £200m budget is being spent of dredging.
The lengthening of boats was highlighted as an issue as it is causing the deep water channel to meander and shoaling can become an issue.
Weed is now being tackled on a national basis and greater consistency is expected.
Air Quality government consultation
CRT are responding to a government request by 15th June.
Inland craft are not directly impacted in the review, but CRT wish to make sure our interests are represents to avoid and scope creep which would disadvantage boaters.
Whilst there was a lot of discussion about making boat propulsion "greener" there were few answers and we stressed that there would be almost nil interest in engine scrappage scheme, assuming a compliant marine diesel exists.
Discussion then moved to stove emissions and the problems this causes with land based neighbours, particularly in urban areas like Islington cutting.
There is concern that new Mayors may try to anact local rules and CRT are keen to take action on a pre emptive basis to show we are doing what we can and are acting responsibly.
No Update - to be addressed at the next meeting.
Stage one telephone interviews complete covering a representative from all the major user groups. Results are available on line.
Stage two will examine the themes in more detail. 988 people responded and offered to participate - but only 135 places available over 9 days in various locations. Successful applicants have been notified.
Stage three will be an open invitation to comment following stage 2.
Clarification about the aim of the review was requested and we were advised:
- There is a perception that the current system is overly complex and not particularly fair.
- An opportunity exists to take a look at the issue and review it.
The revenue dimension was discussed and broadly the aim seems to be to keep it income neutral. The first stage will to be to agree a fair and logical structure and then to calibrate it to deliver the same (ish) income as at present.
The revised approach is slated to be presented to the Trustees in November and will be run past the Elected Boaters Representatives at an extra meeting in late summer.
London Mooring Strategy
Five focus groups have been held covering a range of stakeholders.
Will revert to the NAG and Elected Members.
The current limited changes to London Moorings have been in train for some years and are not part of this review.
An update will be released for comment in late May / June.