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The future of our canals?


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7 minutes ago, Halsey said:

I truly hope you are right BUT from our direct experience over the last 2-5 years in particular its not on the internet its reality............and getting worse

Maybe true, but I think the world just changed over the last few months, hopefully for the better as far as canals are concerned. The idea of being self contained, self sufficient, not having to share facilities will be big bonuses.... 

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I think many here are being too pessimistic.

 

The network is in better condition now than it was when I first started canalling in the early 70's.

 

For leisure boating the system peaked in the early 90's and has been in slow decline ever since.

 

However Covid-19 has changed things, as Rob says, more people are looking at UK based holidays, boat sales are up and many new people have found out about the canals, some of whom might eventually hire or buy boats.

 

In recent months I have spoken to lots of new towpath users, many had no idea the network was so extensive and they have asked me loads of questions about my boat and what is involved in having one.

 

As long as there are enough people using the system, (including anglers, cyclists and walkers) to kick up a fuss if bits begin to get closed, then there will be the means to put presure on government to do something about it.

Edited by cuthound
To unmangle the effects of autocorrect.
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30 minutes ago, robtheplod said:

Maybe true, but I think the world just changed over the last few months, hopefully for the better as far as canals are concerned. The idea of being self contained, self sufficient, not having to share facilities will be big bonuses.... 

The problem with the 'best days are yet to come' is that 100's of millions needs spending to bring the system back up to what it was at the end of the last century, let alone improve it. C&RT did publish the backlog of work needed to bring the infrastructure back up to 'specification / standard' but I have not seen it published for the last few years (it was growing almost exponentially year on year)

The Government is not going to have any money to spare for the next 'few' years, and as the DEFRA grant is finishing in the next 3 years and is currently running at 25% of C&RTs total income the situation can only get worse.

 

The DEFRA grant was set up to run for (I think) 12 years to give C&RT the opportunity to raise funds from other sources, so far they have singularly failed to even cover their fund raising costs, you need to dig very deeply into their accounts but it is there,

 

In year 2018/19 

 

Voluntary income was £3.4m. Expenditure raising that income was £3.9m. Loss £500,000. 

 

The figures and the cumulative loss over the first six years (2012/13 to 2018/19) of the Trust is £5.5m 

 

They would have been better off by £5.5m if they had not done any fundraising activities.

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Maybe one answer is finding more volunteers, a bit like how it was when the canals were renovated. Some boaters still cut grass next to their boat, some remove obstructions from behind lock gates. Replacing lock gates and dredging obviosly costs money but even that could be done by volunteers.

 

I hope more people will take an active interest in the canals so we all help to keep the system going and maybe less reliance on the self serving empire.

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2 hours ago, Rumsky said:

Difficult to say really. We hire boated in the 80's when I was a nipper. I've been extensively cruising the network for the last 3 years on my own boat, and I've yet to encounter anything as bad as the doom and gloom I read about on the Internet. 

Never been ooop norf over the Pennines then

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1 hour ago, Alan de Enfield said:

The problem with the 'best days are yet to come' is that 100's of millions needs spending to bring the system back up to what it was at the end of the last century, let alone improve it. C&RT did publish the backlog of work needed to bring the infrastructure back up to 'specification / standard' but I have not seen it published for the last few years (it was growing almost exponentially year on year)

The Government is not going to have any money to spare for the next 'few' years, and as the DEFRA grant is finishing in the next 3 years and is currently running at 25% of C&RTs total income the situation can only get worse.

 

The DEFRA grant was set up to run for (I think) 12 years to give C&RT the opportunity to raise funds from other sources, so far they have singularly failed to even cover their fund raising costs, you need to dig very deeply into their accounts but it is there,

 

In year 2018/19 

 

Voluntary income was £3.4m. Expenditure raising that income was £3.9m. Loss £500,000. 

 

The figures and the cumulative loss over the first six years (2012/13 to 2018/19) of the Trust is £5.5m 

 

They would have been better off by £5.5m if they had not done any fundraising activities.

Yes but isn't everything always underfunded?  I can't recall the last time I heard that X organisation had enough to do what they needed to do....

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58 minutes ago, Alan de Enfield said:

The problem with the 'best days are yet to come' is that 100's of millions needs spending to bring the system back up to what it was at the end of the last century, let alone improve it. C&RT did publish the backlog of work needed to bring the infrastructure back up to 'specification / standard' but I have not seen it published for the last few years (it was growing almost exponentially year on year)

The Government is not going to have any money to spare for the next 'few' years, and as the DEFRA grant is finishing in the next 3 years and is currently running at 25% of C&RTs total income the situation can only get worse.

 

The DEFRA grant was set up to run for (I think) 12 years to give C&RT the opportunity to raise funds from other sources, so far they have singularly failed to even cover their fund raising costs, you need to dig very deeply into their accounts but it is there,

 

In year 2018/19 

 

Voluntary income was £3.4m. Expenditure raising that income was £3.9m. Loss £500,000. 

 

The figures and the cumulative loss over the first six years (2012/13 to 2018/19) of the Trust is £5.5m 

 

They would have been better off by £5.5m if they had not done any fundraising activities.

CRT will no longer provide a financial figures regarding backlog of maintenance. They claim that they do not estimate the cost of remediating a defect until such time as they schedule the work.

Withe regard to the grant agreement running for 12 years, it actually runs for 15. Most boaters are unaware that Defra will review CRT's performance in the 2021/22 financial year. Some preparatory work has already taken place ...

Defra's MOU with CRT (which will be one of the reference documents used in the review) makes it quite clear that an objective is reduction or removal of grant. To this end, CRT has been increasing the value of its non-operational assets such that it can fund itself. It has also attempted to develop a 'new' funding stream - "charitable giving" but is failing miserably. 

One positive that has come out of the Toddbrook incident is that Defra are very aware that CRT has not been maintaining its 72 reservoirs in a safe condition. CRT's response has been to commit £30m over the next three years to bring them up to acceptable condition (this seems to be in addition to the £10m needed to rebuild Toddbrook). It follows from the above that, if CRT are unwilling/unable to maintain its most safety critical operational assets in good order, then it is likely that this applies to all operational assets. Defra will, no doubt, ignore this.

Regarding visitor numbers, these have fallen year on year for the last four years. CRT's response to this disaster has been to change the method by which the figures are calculated so that they can show that visitor numbers have doubled.



 

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8 minutes ago, robtheplod said:

Yes but isn't everything always underfunded?  I can't recall the last time I heard that X organisation had enough to do what they needed to do....

As CRT produce figures showing that that the general condition of its operational assets have improved over the years, it will have some difficulty convincing government that it is underfunded.

It has also more than doubled the £460m of non operational assets transferred to it in 2012 so its ability to fund itself has increased. 

 

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33 minutes ago, Midnight said:

Never been ooop norf over the Pennines then

Several times on hire boats and squeezed through the Leeds and Liverpool year before last on my own 63ft boat and never even got wet feet. 

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This thread is predictably optimistic ?

I actually do think the canals will still be navigable in another 30 years. Covid might increase the popularity of holidaying in the UK. I think the change from retired pensioners on holiday boats to younger liveaboards doesn't have to be a bad thing and many will catch the canal bug and become lifelong enthusiasts. The canals still get used for boating even if the boats aren't shiny and aren't doing 1000s of lock miles a year. It was interesting that CRT had to keep navigation open during lockdown for this reason.

Although I do wonder if some of the energy put into some restoration schemes might be better going on some currently navigable canals that need more than a little tlc

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Cruising along the Middlewich Branch and T&M Northwards and I much prefer the unmown canalside we have due to this new situation. Just roll a barge pole over the long grass away from the boat for access and saw off saplings taken root in the banks.

 

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22 hours ago, wandering snail said:

Aren't harbour fees getting more and more expensive though? Having wondered about doing similar, we have heard that even when anchoring off, they come out to you to charge you!

 

They certainly are in the western Med.   50 years ago we spent a summer cruising from Malta to Falmouth and stopped in 75 ports on the way, we didn't have to pay in any of them although I must admit we went to the beach when we spotted a fancy uniform approaching our berth in St Tropez, some distance from the office and he didn't come back.   Now it can be hundreds per night in popular places like Ibiza where we took an annual berth in the 70s for £300.   In Spain they can ban anchoring to protect the posidonia weed and charge for taking a buoy even though it grows down most of the coast, probably spread by boats anchoring.

22 hours ago, wandering snail said:

 

22 hours ago, wandering snail said:

 

 

22 hours ago, wandering snail said:

 

 

22 hours ago, wandering snail said:

 

 

 

Edited by JamesFrance
duplicates
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10 minutes ago, JamesFrance said:

They certainly are in the western Med.   50 years ago we spent a summer cruising from Malta to Falmouth and stopped in 75 ports on the way, we didn't have to pay in any of them although I must admit we went to the beach when we spotted a fancy uniform approaching our berth in St Tropez, some distance from the office and he didn't come back.   Now it can be hundreds per night in popular places like Ibiza where we took an annual berth in the 70s for £300.   In Spain they can ban anchoring to protect the posidonia weed and charge for taking a buoy even though it grows down most of the coast, probably spread by boats anchoring.

They certainly are in the western Med.   50 years ago we spent a summer cruising from Malta to Falmouth and stopped in 75 ports on the way, we didn't have to pay in any of them although I must admit we went to the beach when we spotted a fancy uniform approaching our berth in St Tropez, some distance from the office and he didn't come back.   Now it can be hundreds per night in popular places like Ibiza where we took an annual berth in the 70s for £300.   In Spain they can ban anchoring to protect the posidonia weed and charge for taking a buoy even though it grows down most of the coast, probably spread by boats anchoring.

They certainly are in the western Med.   50 years ago we spent a summer cruising from Malta to Falmouth and stopped in 75 ports on the way, we didn't have to pay in any of them although I must admit we went to the beach when we spotted a fancy uniform approaching our berth in St Tropez, some distance from the office and he didn't come back.   Now it can be hundreds per night in popular places like Ibiza where we took an annual berth in the 70s for £300.   In Spain they can ban anchoring to protect the posidonia weed and charge for taking a buoy even though it grows down most of the coast, probably spread by boats anchoring.

They certainly are in the western Med.   50 years ago we spent a summer cruising from Malta to Falmouth and stopped in 75 ports on the way, we didn't have to pay in any of them although I must admit we went to the beach when we spotted a fancy uniform approaching our berth in St Tropez, some distance from the office and he didn't come back.   Now it can be hundreds per night in popular places like Ibiza where we took an annual berth in the 70s for £300.   In Spain they can ban anchoring to protect the posidonia weed and charge for taking a buoy even though it grows down most of the coast, probably spread by boats anchoring.

They certainly are in the western Med.   50 years ago we spent a summer cruising from Malta to Falmouth and stopped in 75 ports on the way, we didn't have to pay in any of them although I must admit we went to the beach when we spotted a fancy uniform approaching our berth in St Tropez, some distance from the office and he didn't come back.   Now it can be hundreds per night in popular places like Ibiza where we took an annual berth in the 70s for £300.   In Spain they can ban anchoring to protect the posidonia weed and charge for taking a buoy even though it grows down most of the coast, probably spread by boats anchoring.

 

It is said that repetition adds emphasis.

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5 hours ago, nikvah said:

Cruising along the Middlewich Branch and T&M Northwards and I much prefer the unmown canalside we have due to this new situation. Just roll a barge pole over the long grass away from the boat for access and saw off saplings taken root in the banks.

 

They came along and cut all our towpaths a couple of weeks ago.....but somehow missed this weed. No boats had been moored anywhere near for weeks.

20200706_181944.jpg

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3 minutes ago, matty40s said:

They came along and cut all our towpaths a couple of weeks ago.....but somehow missed this weed. No boats had been moored anywhere near for weeks.

20200706_181944.jpg

We had one of the teams a few years ago and the chap on the strummer refused to do an area "because its giant hogweed mate", it wasn't 

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1 hour ago, tree monkey said:

We had one of the teams a few years ago and the chap on the strummer refused to do an area "because its giant hogweed mate", it wasn't 

Looks like cow parsley  but maybe it's Hemlock and the man with the strimmer was worried about it.  Spots on the stems. 

 

Certainly not giant hogweed. 

 

 

Edited by magnetman
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1 hour ago, magnetman said:

Looks like cow parsley  but maybe it's Hemlock and the man with the strimmer was worried about it.  Spots on the stems. 

 

Certainly not giant hogweed. 

 

 

An umbellifer I think but which one I don't know, certainly not from that photo and even with a better one I am rubbish with umbellifers ;)

 

It could certainly be paranoia on the strummer blokes part, never did me any harm, I think

 

Edited by tree monkey
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Just now, Alan de Enfield said:

Unsure ?

Typo on my part.

 

It would be foolish to have no insurance at all  even if owning a boat of little value - a third party claim could easily bankrupt most people. Any third party insurance is relatively cheap.

 

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6 minutes ago, MartynG said:

Typo on my part.

 

It would be foolish to have no insurance at all  even if owning a boat of little value - a third party claim could easily bankrupt most people. Any third party insurance is relatively cheap.

 

I agree, and as I said, my boats are insured.

 

I was simply making the point that in the UK,  boats on the sea there are subject to very few requirements (pretty much just Colregs)

 

In that respect we are fairly unique in the world.

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