Friday, 27 September 2019

CRT Jottings - Elected Boaters Meeting 25.9.19

Elected Boaters Meeting
25.9.19

You know what they say about busses....none for ages and then three at once.

Well thats how it feels with CRT meetings - little action for months and suddenly, three in a week.

This week it was the Elected Boaters meeting, a gathering which takes place about three times a year and it there to serve as a forum to discuss nitty gritty boating issues, often things which are quite localised or specific and therefore wouldn't get bandwidth in CRT National Council. Truth be told its this sort of meeting where everyday issues are identified and flagged to CRT. It also operates the other way round where CRT float issues and ideas past us before they are generally released on an unsuspecting world.

This meeting was largely filled with issues raised by the Boating Reps present which included: Stella Ridgeway, Andrew Phasey, Phil Prettyman, Nigel Hamilon and myself.

Zero Emissions
This topic absorbed nearly half the two hour meeting and was in response to a recent government pledge to make the maritime sector (including inland waterways) zero emission by 2050. The inclusion of Inland Waterways took everyone by surprise containing an expectation that a plan will be in place from 2025 leading to full implementation by 2050.

Although this subject is a bit dry and the deadline a long way off, the implications are very significant because the expectation appears to have shifted from "Inland Waterways craft and few in number and low impact so moving in the right (greener) direction within is OK" to "Inland Waterways craft will comply fully with the wider emissions plan and must arrive at Zero on the stated date". 

This will impact both heating (stoves) and propulsion. Most worrying, the expectation seems to be that there will be a complete shift away from diesel propulsion and instead craft will be powered by electricity, or hydrogen /ammonia cells.The electric route would call for a massive charging infrastructure investment and the fuel cell approach is either prohibitively expensive or experimental / unproven.

CRT is actively engaging in a call for evidence and boaters can expect to receive feedback requests which will be used to provide statistically valid data to the Government. Boaters are asked to respond.

It was observed that new boats have a 50 to 60 year life span so new boats will be operating long after 2050 and it will be very difficult to retro convert them as and when new requirements are announced. The paper suggests a net zero position so there may be scope to follow an off-setting route by selective planting of CRT land.

It is believed that a vast majority of live aboards use a stove to heat their craft and a question on heating will be included within the feedback form.

CRT will feed back to Government by the end of the year.


Customer Service Faciities

These are the subject of an ongoing review. There are 254 service sites on the network (the services offered very) which collectively cost £2m pa or £7874 per unit.
Pump out machines are a particular problem with CRT effectively subsidising each pump out by £30 (true cost is circa £45). One option is to make greater use of nearby third party facilities and the other is to design an inlet to facilitate self pump outs.

This situation needs to be made more sustainable with a lot of money being spent repairing vandalised buildings.

Over and under provision of facilities will be assessed and minimum standards identified. The provision of fault prone showers are a likely focus of attention.

To reduce building repair costs a modular open air design is being considered, more use of third party facilities will be considered and a seasonally weighted cleaning programme will be considered.

The need for temporary alternative elsan facilities when a site is out of action for a prolonged period was raised. 

I specifically cited the one on the  GU south of Leamington Spa and the one at Rugby. The first is being reopened soon and Rugby is being reviewed.

CRT will take this issue away and see how things can be enhanced.

Elections

The existing Boater reps are considering if they wish to stand for re-election. There are mixed responses at this stage with some planning to stand and others deciding not to for a variety of reasons.

Nominations open 21 Oct and close on 18th November.
Result of nominations announced on 25 Nov.

For the record I do plan to stand, but this time it will be in the Private Boating constituency as the Roving Traders have been moved over.

Customer Service Contacts.

The increasing difficulty of contacting CRT triggered  lively discussion and problems were cited from all members present.
It was apparent that there are difficulties reaching CRT via the website and the absence of feedback meant that there was little confidence that the messages were getting through.
This issue was partly attributed to the loss of bankside staff and also a lack of ownership of issues when raised.
All reps indicated that it is becoming more and more difficult to defend the lack of CRT feedback.

Speaking personally, I was unsure if my recent email message about a significant leak in Market Drayton embankment had been registered.

London situation
The volume of extra boats is about 400 up this year, although the high density has spread out a bit.
It is believed that London boats turn over about every 3 years, which means that the experience levels can be low.

Fradley Lock Landing
I raised concern about the inadequacy of the single lock landing above Fradley Junction, one of the busiest lock flights on the system. I had recently observed boat rage from moorers leading to distress among moving boats and unauthorised landing on the offside bank. I suggested that an extra two or three lock landing spaces be created and a corresponding reduction in the number of permanent moorings between the lock and the pub. This is being considered.

Next meeting Wed 26th Feb 2020.

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