Monday, 13 May 2013

Canal and River Trust's first major boating consultation: Lies or incompetence?

The recent CRT response to the SE Moorings Consultation contains for me a damning admission. CRT apparently do not consistently record what their customers tell them. For old hands like me this is actually no surprise whatsoever. It is the way BW worked for years and seemingly CRT are going to carry on the same way. Admitting the failing so publically is however new!

On the one hand they claimed to be receiving numerous 'complaints' about difficulties mooring, but it seems none of these complaints were formally recorded in their complaints system or anywhere else. Understandably this situation meant that NABO and others have felt obliged to run a coach and horses through the consultation process. Taken at its worst the whole process is based on what anyone else would call hearsay. Some are accusing CRT of outright lies. Narrowboatworld sets out the details here, in much the the same terms as I understand it.

Now hearsay is not wholly invalid and much of it reflects genuine experience. It is fair to say that a lot of what appears on the boating forums and even blogs (!)  is hearsay. Doesn't mean it ain't true. Some is, some isn't. You have to check other sources (or not!) and eventually judge for yourself.

However many of us say that the whole series of consultations we have been through over the last three to four years, (first on the Kennet and Avon, then the Lee and Stort and now SE Moorings) were always based on pretty flimsy evidence. Certainly the many of the numereous and in some cases very comprehensive responses to each of these consultations have consistently asked the question about quality of evidence (or lack of) for the case being put forward by BW/CRT.

It has always seemed like there is an unspoken, but not very effectively concealed agenda, to make things more difficult for continuous cruisers and in the process find pretty dubious ways to justify new charges and impose new and, many would say disproportionate restrictions on all boaters, some including the threat of new penalty charges.

Of course even when the complaints system is cited, it has in the past been used selectively. Let's go back to where this all started on the K+A. That sort of use of statistics of course not only fails to make the case but suggests that there was no case in the first place?

However policy formulation based on hearsay, while sadly common enough, never makes for effect policies or working relationships. At its worst it's dangerous and damaging. We sadly this weekend heard news of a  a lady living alone in a family home of nearly two decades who was apparently drawn to take her own life over the so called bedroom tax. My sympathies to her family and friends at this terrible time. There are however uncomfortable parallels between some of the scapegoating of benefits claimants and some of the rhetoric on some forums about continuous cruisers when it come to "not paying their way", " undeserving", "fecklessnes" "drop-outs", "unfairness to the taxpayer", etc etc.

BW and since, CRT have spent three plus years trying to steamroller the same agenda and, despite frequent knock-back's, have not it seems even bothered to record 'evidence' that might support their case. This is a pretty damining indictment of the absence of competence CRT's Boating management team and more broadly in CRT. Sadly, it increasingly seems that the CRT Trustees are allowing themselves to be duped by the officers' obsessive bluster and panic and unwillingness to lose face when they have got things so badly wrong for so long. They are still trying to say there is a crisis where none exists. Even if some less serious issues exist, as is probably the case, it does not seem worthy of the draconian changes CRT are pursuing, especially when they can't even make it so far as documenting the evidence they are relying on to justify the change.


  1. £25 per night overstay charge - proportionate?
    We are currently moored at Tewkesbury on the Avon for £3 (that's THREE pounds) per night.
    Anyone up for challenging £25?!?!?!

  2. It just seems to confirm that "Those in Charge" have no idea of the actual situation of being on, living on, and/or what's going in the "REAL" canal world and canal fraternity!

    Would the headings, Power, Control, Money, etc have anything to do with this, I wonder?

    Finance of a large organisation and business control of over 2000 miles of waterways, 'does' need special executive CEOs but the day-to-day running of canals should be - through/via/or practical knowledge and experience of those enjoying and living their particular lifestyle, not the executives who are too far away from the day-to-day mainly successful way one lives on the canals, the casual holiday maker with a boat they use just a few weeks of the year should also be limited to the input, (They are often the "Control Freaks" who run their own business and think they know it all!)

  3. Sadly it has been my unfortunate experience of having to deal with BW/CRT for the last four years. I can honestly say that it has been the worst for years of my life. This organisation excels in lies and manipulation. It seems to have no moral compass, and continues to bully and decieve with impunity

    1. I have had almost two years experience of them and reached the same conclusion in a very short period of time.