Tuesday, 20 October 2015

An outbreak of common sense in CRT?

Saying something positive about CRT? Well yes. It seems that what many have said about the futility of tinkering with visitor mooring durations, so beloved of Sally Ash and some others, if not to stop, will at least now only be attempted on a rational basis. Last week CRT announced its Short Term Mooring Framework.

The policy sets out detailed rational criteria that must be considered before imposing changes on visitor mooring durations. It acknowledges a clear distinction between formal visitor moorings and casual mooring and sets some basic standards of maintenance for visitor moorings. The only notable absence is anything about dredging and depth of water. Most importantly it sets out a national framework. It seems that someone has realised the futility of different things going on in different regions, confusing boaters and frontline staff alike!

The policy also included what is supposed to be a comprehensive consultation framework and makes piloting future changes all but mandatory.

Although the policy has apparently been around since February 2015 it seems it has only been confirmed publicly over six months later. Better late than never.

Notable is that the policy has been signed off by CEO Richard Parry: It seems that the anger and frustration that boating organisations have been expressing following recent debacles in this area has at last been acknowledged at the top of CRT.

Understandably a few have said 'it's just words', and indeed we will see whether any future changes will adhere to the policy. But hey, at the least boaters have a yardstick against which to measure any new proposals and how they are implemented.

It seems inevitable given the detailed work that is supposedly required over a prolonged period in order to implement future changes, that Waterways Manager will have to think twice before proposing such changes and on balance I think that is a good thing. I and many others have observed that past tinkering in this area seemed more designed to assert power over boaters and has been attempted 'because we can', rather than to address any proven need for change.

One can only hope marks a significant change in CRT thinking; if this marks a return to evidence based policy making following the 'Sally and Simon' days of just chucking one's weight around on a whim, then that is progress. Attempts at fiddling with mooring durations in the recent past were clearly linked to the obsession about Continuous Cruisers and as many have said, highlighted the unfairness and ultimate futility of fiddling around with rules that effect every boating customer in an attempt to target the poor behaviour of a minority within a minority: not forgetting of course that this premise was fatally flawed from the outset.

Here's hoping we have turned a corner on this one?

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