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Ray T

Canal & River Trust Press briefing 28th Jan 2019

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Notes of CRT Press Briefing at Hatton Offices 28th January 2019


General update – Trust Restructure 

The Trust’s 6 regional teams are now in operation with the Regional Directors all being in post for a number of months. The move to 6 regional teams puts the emphasis on improving management efficiency and moving resources from central departments to the locally focused regions. The appointment to fill the poles available in the Regional teams is underway and the aim is to have the process completed by Easter. 

This will have no effect on the “frontline” bank- side colleagues.


Julie Sharman, the Chief Operating Officer will head the following appointments:

David Baldacchino – Head of Operations Support

Peter Walker – Head of Technical Support.

Jon Horsfall – Head of Customer Support.


The current 10 Waterway units have been restructured into 6 regions. The regional directors are:

Daniel Greenhalgh – North West. Adnan Saif – West Midlands.

Richard Thomas – Wales & the SW. Sean McGinley – York’s & NE.

Phil Mulligan – East Midlands. Ros Daniels London & SE.


West Midlands Annual Public Meeting 

The meeting was held at The Birmingham Council House on the 10th of January.

The meeting was attended by The Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street and a diverse range of inspiring people. The meeting also saw the launch of the 250th anniversary of canals coming to Birmingham.


Volunteering update 

The “Join the Daves” campaign has been launched to widen the range of volunteers and promote inclusivity. https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/volunteer

Volunteer activities and success are diverse and many. A small selection includes: A volunteer at Skyhouse Lock having completed over 10,000 hours. The East Midland hedge laying training programme funded by the Tesco Bag Fund. Volunteers have been carrying out more offside and towpath vegetation clearing works, e.g. working down the north GU. Volunteers on the Birmingham & Fazeley at Curdworth have had approval to display a canal garden design at the Gardeners World Show. Five Green Flag Award submissions have been made for canals including Sheffield & Tinsley, the Erewash Canal and the Hanwell Lock Flight on the GU in London.

A “no go” area under the A12 Flyover on the River Lee has been tackled along with the assistance of Transport for London and Hackney LB.


Works update


Winter works:

 All 54 pre planned pre Christmas stoppages have been completed and all navigations involved re- opened.  A further 73 stoppages are projected to be completed by mid March.

Middlewich Breach. The cost is nearly £3m. The 12m high embankment has been rebuilt, the canal lined with a PVC membrane and new canal walls and towpath have been constructed. Measures have been included to improve resilience to deal with increased water flows at this location. The local community contributed over £30,000 and the People’s Postcode Lottery £1.42m.

The problem lock at Napton has been rebuilt and an open day was held for local boaters to view the work. The lock is no longer a “pinch point” for historic boats.


The work at Marple Lock 11 is proving to be “challenging” and work is progressing well despite significant site constraints.


Marsh Lock – River Weaver

The gate was rendered inoperable after being hit by the MV Daniel Adamson last summer. Single gate use for narrowboats has been restored. As a total gate replacement would have a negative impact on CRT gate building capacity a decision has been taken to repair / rebuild the gates on site. A major difficulty is that there is no room for a crane to unstep the gate and lift it out. Another possibility is to lift the gate using air bags and float it to a temporary workshop.



The Trust has secured c. £5-10m more third-party funding to be spent on towpaths in:

The West Midlands, West and North Yorkshire, London, Greater Manchester, Kennet & Avon, Gloucester, Trent & Mersey and others.


Open days

Location                                                                               Open day dates

Lock 92 Rochdale Canal Manchester                                     9 &10 February

Anderton Boat Lift                                                                16 February

Lock 1 Birmingham & Fazeley                                              23 &24 February

Cowley Lock Uxbridge GU                                                    23 February

Northgate Lock Shropshire Union Chester                          2 March

Finsley Gate Wharf L & L Canal Burnley                              3 March

Lock 17 Northampton GU                                                   9 & 10 March

Virtual Open Day, Marsh Lock River Weaver*                     TBC

*Because of access issues the open day will be ‘virtual’ using video and reports over social media.


HS2 Overview

Phase 1 The Trust have secured a legally binding “side agreement “ with HS2 which covers 13 interfaces with the canal network including tunnels, large structures over the canals and a short canal diversion.

Enabling works are now under way to identify any essential closures to the canal network. Two Trust staff are in place to solely work on HS2 matters.

Phase 2a is nearly complete with additional protection secured.

The Trust proposes to seek HS2 grant funding for canal improvement works and community projects.


Boater Report

Boaters have requested greater insight as to how The Trust spends its money, particularly the licence fee. The Trust is creating a Boater Report to help improve how income is generated and how expenditure supports boating. A PDF will be issued for new licences and with licence renewals. The Navigation Advisory Group (made up of volunteers) has been involved.


Boater Surveys

Instead of one annual Boat Owner’s survey, CRT is moving towards more targeted boater surveys.


A boat licence satisfaction survey was launched in November 2018 with 85% of respondents rating the process of online renewal as excellent or good. 97% of respondents who currently use the on line licence renewal system would recommend it to those who currently don’t use it.

A new boater waterway feedback survey will be launched between April – September sampling boaters across the regions including hire boat users, not previously included.


Boaters’ Handbook

The Boaters’ Handbook is being updated for 2019. The NAG and other boaters elected groups have been involved with the process. New content is to include boating in and around unpowered craft and advice for wide beam boaters.

Additional useful links to The Trust’s  web site to be provided.


Welfare & Equality update

The CRT Welfare Officer received approx. 300 direct welfare referrals in 2018. 269 Equality Adjustments have been requested since April 2018. Vulnerabilities training is to be rolled out to boating customer support staff. A “Cheshire Healthwatch”  project  has been set up to improve access to register with health professionals for boaters.

Forums have been formed to find out more about disabled boaters experience with 3 meetings already taken place with more dates planned.


Winter moorings



Total permits sold

Total income


Total months booked

Total length sold metres

Total sites where permits purchased






103 out of 135






113 out of 138














Water Resource update

Annual Lockage Report 2018


The report is now in its 18th year with comparisons between 2017 and 2018. Lock usage was down in 2018, likely effects due to water resource related closures and restrictions. The busiest site is still the lock at Hillmorton on the North Oxford. An on line report was published at the end of January.


After six months of below average rainfall, the most of November, most of December had increased rain fall. Little rainfall has fallen since before Christmas and this has been across the whole country.

The dry weather can be seen in decreased river flows across England. With the exception of the Itchen in Hampshire, all our indicator sites are below normal. While this is a cause of concern, it doesn’t mean rivers are dry.


Prospects for the 2019 season

Most reservoir groups are at or above 80% full. The Oxford and Grand Union canal reservoirs are a cause of concern as they are at only at 50% full level but not as bad as the 2011-12 period.


Crick Boat Show

This will be the 20th anniversary of the show. The Canal & River Trust marquee will be open on the new “trade and preview day” focusing on sessions for new and existing boating business customers.

Canal Arts will be running free paint a spoon activity. A Restoration Theme will feature the past two decades and current projects. There will be boating, fishing museums, environment, water management demonstrations with fundraising teams on hand. Heritage apprentices will be given “hands on” opportunities.


Anniversaries during 2019

The Sheffield & Tinsley Canal celebrates its 200 birthday in February with a recreation of the first coal barges. Approx 60,000 people watched the first barges in 1819. Further events throughout the year are to follow.

The Lancaster Canal celebrates its bicentenary this year with activities planned. One will be to engage local communities and volunteers with a milestone replacement project.


As ever I will not personally enter into any correspondence with regard to the content of these notes. Whilst I have compiled them they have been vetted by a Canal and River Trust manager. Any questions regarding the contents please refer them to the Canal & River Trust.

Edited by Ray T

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Believing that you can't see 90 years into the future, I have changed the date on your heading!

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