Council Report March 2019
I have spoken about not being well; one of the joys of renal failure is your ability to pick up whatever viruses are going round and hold them in your body for months; resulting in exhaustion an no ability to do anything other than what is essential. Hence, no Council report has been written until now and for this I apologise. As usual, please be advised these are my recollections from notes made; therefore, they should not be regarded as minutes and anything missed is entirely down to the fact I haven’t noted it or I just didn’t remember.
We met in Manchester on 20 March - a Wednesday, so no dialysis and as I could get a local train into the city, I didn’t need to get up at the crack of dawn. We met just after 9am and on this day, the local team take the Council on a show and tell - in our case round the side of the Bridgewater to Lock 89 and a walk to Lock 87 (I had no idea this short cut was there). Lock 89 is where there have been two fatalities as people use the header gates to cross the canal rather than the nice bridge provided above the tail gates, so a temporary fence has been erected but allowing boaters to access the lock and preventing the use of the header gates as a walkway. The Trust has joined in with Peel Holdings, the Fire Service, Police, Manchester City Council in the Water Safety Initiative. (This is a wonderful opportunity to engage Peel and hopefully resolve the issue of the Bridgewater Canal). we walked up to Lock 87; there are plans to redevelop all this and the area around Piccadilly Basin as a destination zone - something Manchester is lacking and therefore misses out on tourism pounds. As an aside next to Chrchgate House on Oxford Road ithere is a statue of a horse next to it on the offside as a nod to the horses used in the past.
We then returned to the Bridgewater Hall for the Council Meeting, The Governance Report was issued and there are to be additional members elected and appointed and the that these to take effect from March 2020 after the next elections are in December 2019. They propose some additional elected and nominated reps to Council including a fifth Private Boaters Rep - (we said this should be a liveaboard bearing in mind the significant increase in these.) For those now wondering, I shall be seeking re-election to Council as I feel after four years we are finally getting somewhere and changes will happen, although probably slowly.
We had a full report from Julie Sharman, the Chief Operating Officer, who gave a full report on Winter Improvement Works, the uptake on Winter moorings with 703 permits sold for a total 2294 months. There is ongoing work for Green Flag Awards; there are various initiatives going on to promote Don’t Drink and Drown, particularly in City Centres. She also updated us on Marple Flight due to open at the end of May 2019.
We then broke for lunch and resumed at 1.30 where a presentation was made by Kevin Fitzgerald, the Chair of the Waterways Ombudsman Committee with an introduction to the new Waterways Ombudsman designate, Sarah Daniel who officially starts in June 2019.
Council had requested some items for debate and the first was on Sharing the Towpath. I was asked to speak on behalf of boaters, with angling, walking members also speaking. The Cycling UK member sent apologies which was a shame as we need responsible cyclists to set examples to the few who insist on speeding and that was the crux of the issue. It is a small strip of land adjacent to the canal, usually no more than six feet wide and often narrower than that and everyone is responsible for their own behaviour. Regarding anglers, if you see bad behaviour , please report it as Angling clubs sign a code of conduct with Canal and River Trust and can be fined if their members are not adhering. I tried not to just be critical of cyclists as I know commuting is limited to certain areas and particularly bad behaviour to a minority; so reporting all incidents, no matter how minor, is important. After the various presentations, we split into groups to discuss and see if we could find any ideas - in brief, better directional signage where there is a dedicated cycle path nearby; more communication with Councils and other stakeholders about access and egress and making reporting incidents on the website easier as there is loads on anecdotal evidence and little reporting.
The meeting closed at 4.30pm, the next one is after the AGM on Thursday 20 September in Birmingham.