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I started boating on the UK canal system when I was 19, I'm now nearly 69, in that time the system has improved beyond recognition. It is of course not perfect but be realistic the government which via CRT is now responsible for a network of waterways used by a few 10's of thousands of people. Given the amount of money available to CRT they do a good job and if approached correctly they are always helpful.

These days our boat is based in Europe, the Netherlands at the moment, Europe still has working commercial waterways with seriously large boats and they have priority under all circumstances, you could easily spend an hour waiting for a lock or bridge to open because a commercial is approaching. Despite the commercial waterways, which bring in the money, all the rest which are only used by pleasure craft get a reasonable amount of maintenance but not at the expense of the commercials. Even the Netherlands which is a boaters paradise only spends a sensible amount of money on what it regards as a hobby for the fairly well off.

I understand that it can be frustrating when things do not work as you would wish but no one on a boat should expect things to work without problems, you are on a boat what is the rush? 

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35 minutes ago, KenK said:

Given the amount of money available to CRT they do a good job and if approached correctly they are always helpful.

C&RT seem to be unable to 'manage their money'.

 

One simple example :

 

C&RT are spending more money paying people to raise money than the amount raised.

 

For the 2018 FY

 

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

Over the first 6 years of C&RTs existence they have made a cumulative loss in 'Voluntary Income' of over £5.5 million.

 

C&RTs original budget projections (with a 25% 'prudence factor)  showed small losses for each of the first 3 years, and by 2017/18 they would have generated a cumulative net income of £0.7m.

Instead they have a deficit of £5.5m.

 

They would have had £5.5m more to spend on maintenance if they had not spent 6 years trying to raise cash, and set up a big 'Giving' Management team with Directors, Managers, regional managers and 'staff' and paying 'Chuggers' more per hour than they raised.

 

 

Another example of dismal failure is the signing up of 'friends'.

If the Trust were on target for 100,000 Friends in 10 years, they should have about 60,000 by the end of the 2017/18 financial year. They have provided two different (contradictory) figures - the higher of which is in the annual report and is 24,100. In 2018 there were just four years left to recruit 76,000 Friends. Put another way, 19,000 for each of the remaining four years. Current recruitment rate is in decline and is less than 4,000 per year.

The 2019 ACTUAL is a total of 28,600

 

One of C&RTs KPI's is the number of days 'unplanned closures' of the navigations. This figure was increasing dramatically and was way above the acceptable (agreed) figure, C&RT moved the goal posts) and redefined it as 'unplanned closures within our control' so that things like Broken Lock Gates became "boater damage" or "vandalism" and dry pounds became due to vandals opening paddles (not leaking gates), this worked for a short while but the unplanned closure within our control kept escalating so the goal posts moved again and only "individual instances of over 48 hours" were logged.

 

This again worked in bringing the numbers down, but, they kept rising until 2019 when the incidents closing the navigations for more than 48 hours which could not be blamed on boaters, kids, or vandalism rose to a high of 649 days (against the KPI target of 450)

 

All of these figures can be found in the C&RT Annual Report & Accounts.

 

C&RT is just another way of saying "Incompetence & Mismanagement".
 

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You have a Government that decided that expenditure needed to be slashed, and achieved this by the simple expedience of arbitary percentage budget cuts across the board regardless of need, and indeed prudence.  Preventative maintenance and preventative health care were simply seen as just another expense that could be cut.

The cruel failure of the healthcare system under covid has both exposed the folly of this path as the massive healthcare failure has spilled over into serious economic damage. Blaming CART for canal failures is exactly ananalgeous to blaming your local hospital trusts for the covid response debacle.

My guess is that most CART managers are acutely aware of maintenance shortcomings and their costs, but like NHS managers have absolutely minimal influence over required income. Unfortunately covid has now given your government greatly increased costs and greatly reduced income. It is hard to see waterways expenditure being high on Cummings's priorities.

However I agree with Alan above, There was an always unrealistic expectation, seeded by the government itself, that government income could be replaced by donations, and this has resulted wasting money, I am sure to as much disgust from CART operations staff as from this forum.

Again I feel CART were on a hiding to nothing. If they hadn't tried to get donation income rolling they were vulnerable to government criticism.

 

 

Edited by DandV
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4 minutes ago, DandV said:

You have a Government that decided that expenditure needed to be slashed, and achieved this by the simple expedience of arbitary percentage budget cuts across the board regardless of need, and indeed prudence.  Preventative maintenance and preventative health care were simply seen as just another expense that could be cut.

The cruel failure of the healthcare system under covid has both exposed the folly of this path as the massive healthcare failure has spilled over into serious economic damage. Blaming CART for canal failures is exactly ananalgeous to blaming your local hospital trusts for the covid response debacle.

My guess is that most CART managers are acutely aware of maintenance shortcomings and their costs, but like NHS managers have absolutely minimal influence over required income. Unfortunately covid has now given your government greatly increased costs and greatly reduced income. It is hard to see waterways expenditure being high on Cummings's priorities.

 

 

 

You appear to be suggesting that the Government has reduced funding to C&RT.

 

I just happen to have 4 years of accounts to hand

 

The DEFRA Grant to C&RT was :

 

2015/16 £39.6m

2016/17 £49.6m

2017/18 £50.7m

2018/19 £51.3m

 

7 minutes ago, DandV said:

Blaming CART for canal failures is exactly ananalgeous to blaming your local hospital trusts for the covid response debacle.

 

No, Blaming C&RT for canal failures is analogous is sending my Son out to buy some butter, he comes back with margarine having spent the difference on a some sweets which he ate on the way home.

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The state of the canals today is better than what I witnessed when I started in the mid 60s

The 70s were pretty grim as well.  BWB clearly had no concept of customer/supplier.  The staff had little interest in what they were doing.  They weren't motivated, there was no objective or plan to follow.  Boaters most certainly were made to feel a nuisance.

I don't remember the 80s having any more or less infrastructure disasters.  Of course Blisworth was closed for about 4 years and the long closure of Anderton started, closed in 1983 due to corrosion. Restoration started in 2001 and the boat lift was re-opened in 2002..  However there were still long term restorations happening.  Up to 1988 The Southern Stratford was in the hands of The National Trust, an organisation famous for managing 200 year old navigations!

1980s-90s also introduced us to The Safety Certificate, a right mess that was.  It was to be compulsory, then it wasn't, then you got a reduction on your licence if you had one, then they started contradicting what it meant, what it covered, what was in it, and what wasn't.

You were NOT allowed to live on your boat like now. BTP had Police launches that would visit.  There was no turning the other eye, if Waterways had proof they would dob you in to the local council.  

I could go on for another page probably, but you're no doubt more bored with this than I am.

No way am I saying the management of our waterways is perfect, but as has already been said ..... Be careful what you wish for.

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5 hours ago, zenataomm said:

The state of the canals today is better than what I witnessed when I started in the mid 60s

The 70s were pretty grim as well.  BWB clearly had no concept of customer/supplier.  The staff had little interest in what they were doing.  They weren't motivated, there was no objective or plan to follow.  Boaters most certainly were made to feel a nuisance.

I don't remember the 80s having any more or less infrastructure disasters.  Of course Blisworth was closed for about 4 years and the long closure of Anderton started, closed in 1983 due to corrosion. Restoration started in 2001 and the boat lift was re-opened in 2002..  However there were still long term restorations happening.  Up to 1988 The Southern Stratford was in the hands of The National Trust, an organisation famous for managing 200 year old navigations!

1980s-90s also introduced us to The Safety Certificate, a right mess that was.  It was to be compulsory, then it wasn't, then you got a reduction on your licence if you had one, then they started contradicting what it meant, what it covered, what was in it, and what wasn't.

You were NOT allowed to live on your boat like now. BTP had Police launches that would visit.  There was no turning the other eye, if Waterways had proof they would dob you in to the local council.  

I could go on for another page probably, but you're no doubt more bored with this than I am.

No way am I saying the management of our waterways is perfect, but as has already been said ..... Be careful what you wish for.

Plus Wast Hill tunnel was finally reopened in 81 after a 2 1\2 year closure.

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13 hours ago, Arthur Marshall said:

What on earth should this blinkered and complacent forum do? I suspect quite a number go out on working parties, clearing what they can, doing maintenance as far as we're able. Some of us do it as we go along, too. Some volunteer with the despised CRT, keeping costs down, and get abused for it.

I'm not sure the forum can repair culverts and rehang gates though. 

It's money, I'm afraid, and it isn't there. If they can't even repair potholes in the roads used by millions, they aren't going to bother much about a few thousand boaters whinging at them.

Of course there are more stoppages. My back breaks down more often, too. We are older and falling to bits. We get more expensive to keep going, and the money is running out.

Well negativity certainly won't help improve anything! Neither does just focussing on money.

 

I think the key to dealing with this sort of problem is to motivate younger people to see what a great asset the waterways are. Without younger people taking an interest most of the 'old school' pastimes and interests will fade away. 

 

If only we could see the harm our obsession with virtual reality is doing to our lives. No wonder going for a walk in our lovely countryside is so therapeutic (if we can be arsed). 

 

Maybe CRT have a program to attract younger people to the waterways, anyone know? 

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This will be our 13th year on the Fossdyke and Witham and I can't say that we have really noticed that much has changed with the condition of the waterway and infrastructure. It is shallow and weedy, but nothing has changed there. Stamp End Lock is temperamental but it has been since we started boating there, same for the leaky lock gates at Bardney, they still leak.

 

The one thing that has changed and really needs nipping in the bud is the sheer number of non compliant CCers.  Moorings are in short supply on the Witham at the best of times so to have them littered with the same boats week in week out is particularly galling.   

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54 minutes ago, Rambling Boater said:

Well negativity certainly won't help improve anything! Neither does just focussing on money.

 

I think the key to dealing with this sort of problem is to motivate younger people to see what a great asset the waterways are. Without younger people taking an interest most of the 'old school' pastimes and interests will fade away. 

 

If only we could see the harm our obsession with virtual reality is doing to our lives. No wonder going for a walk in our lovely countryside is so therapeutic (if we can be arsed). 

 

Maybe CRT have a program to attract younger people to the waterways, anyone know? 

That's rather the point of all the CRT concentration on ads for "friends" , towpaths, conservation and fishing which folk on here complain about. If it brings in less money than it costs, perhaps it makes up for it in interest. 

Outsourcing to contractors has been a pain, but it became part of the business culture years ago, as did treating your staff badly and then wondering why the old loyalties weren't there.

Neither negativity nor positive thinking make an iota of difference to anything. Realism is what matters, and a two hundred year old system is going to need more and more maintenance, which costs more and more money. Which isn't there, and won't be. Enjoy it while it lasts is my advice.

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How are the directors etc. of CaRT selected? If there is a problem with management (as well as funding), then I would expect an issue around how it is selected, and that's where I would focus my energy. Make it more democratic (again, knowing nothing of how it currently works).

 

This is actually the approach the Netherlands (where I lived for four years) takes to its water management. Different organisations actually stand for election to manage the water facilities. I believe it's actually one of the oldest democratic systems in Europe (would have to check), and given that much of the Netherlands is sitting on the former sea bed, a pretty crucial one. Yes, turnout is low, but it keeps management on its toes.

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6 minutes ago, Arthur Marshall said:

That's rather the point of all the CRT concentration on ads for "friends" , towpaths, conservation and fishing which folk on here complain about. If it brings in less money than it costs, perhaps it makes up for it in interest. 

Outsourcing to contractors has been a pain, but it became part of the business culture years ago, as did treating your staff badly and then wondering why the old loyalties weren't there.

Neither negativity nor positive thinking make an iota of difference to anything. Realism is what matters, and a two hundred year old system is going to need more and more maintenance, which costs more and more money. Which isn't there, and won't be. Enjoy it while it lasts is my advice.

It's already halfway through the door where we are, (No LB I don't want to move somewhere else!) but I still pay my ever increasing license fee for which I am receiving ever-decreasing service. I agree money is a big issue but when I see it squandered on logos, signs, Facebook and TV adds aimed at users who will never contribute while the three canals that lead away from my mooring are regularly closed through poor management I don't feel like sitting back and watching it happen. True this petition may achieve nowt but at least some like-minded people are attempting to make CaRT take a different course.

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20 minutes ago, Arthur Marshall said:

 

Neither negativity nor positive thinking make an iota of difference to anything. Realism is what matters

No it isn't. Doing things is what matters, not whinging on  a canal forum. 

 

It seems there are still some postive active doers out there otherwise we wouldn't see canals being renevated still. Sitting on our arses achieves very little.

 

 

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22 minutes ago, Rambling Boater said:

No it isn't. Doing things is what matters, not whinging on  a canal forum. 

 

It seems there are still some postive active doers out there otherwise we wouldn't see canals being renevated still. Sitting on our arses achieves very little.

 

 

In much the same way as signing these silly online petitions does.

Edited by Naughty Cal

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12 minutes ago, Naughty Cal said:

In much the same way as signing these silly online petitions does.

It’s marginally better than whinging here and doing bugger all though. ;)

 

To be fair, I suspect some of the old boys (and girls) on here did take an active interest and played their part in the past, however being negative isn’t exactly going to inspire the youngsters here is it?

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19 minutes ago, Naughty Cal said:

In much the same way as signing these silly online petitions does.

Probably but then what else would you suggest?

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11 hours ago, Alan de Enfield said:

C&RT seem to be unable to 'manage their money'.

 

One simple example :

 

C&RT are spending more money paying people to raise money than the amount raised.

 

For the 2018 FY

 

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

Over the first 6 years of C&RTs existence they have made a cumulative loss in 'Voluntary Income' of over £5.5 million.

 

C&RTs original budget projections (with a 25% 'prudence factor)  showed small losses for each of the first 3 years, and by 2017/18 they would have generated a cumulative net income of £0.7m.

Instead they have a deficit of £5.5m.

 

They would have had £5.5m more to spend on maintenance if they had not spent 6 years trying to raise cash, and set up a big 'Giving' Management team with Directors, Managers, regional managers and 'staff' and paying 'Chuggers' more per hour than they raised.

 

 

Another example of dismal failure is the signing up of 'friends'.

If the Trust were on target for 100,000 Friends in 10 years, they should have about 60,000 by the end of the 2017/18 financial year. They have provided two different (contradictory) figures - the higher of which is in the annual report and is 24,100. In 2018 there were just four years left to recruit 76,000 Friends. Put another way, 19,000 for each of the remaining four years. Current recruitment rate is in decline and is less than 4,000 per year.

The 2019 ACTUAL is a total of 28,600

 

One of C&RTs KPI's is the number of days 'unplanned closures' of the navigations. This figure was increasing dramatically and was way above the acceptable (agreed) figure, C&RT moved the goal posts) and redefined it as 'unplanned closures within our control' so that things like Broken Lock Gates became "boater damage" or "vandalism" and dry pounds became due to vandals opening paddles (not leaking gates), this worked for a short while but the unplanned closure within our control kept escalating so the goal posts moved again and only "individual instances of over 48 hours" were logged.

 

This again worked in bringing the numbers down, but, they kept rising until 2019 when the incidents closing the navigations for more than 48 hours which could not be blamed on boaters, kids, or vandalism rose to a high of 649 days (against the KPI target of 450)

 

All of these figures can be found in the C&RT Annual Report & Accounts.

 

C&RT is just another way of saying "Incompetence & Mismanagement".
 

I somehow suspect there is more to that story than meets the eye: it will be as apparent to the least attentive Board member that the scheme does not, at least yet, stack up. Any Board that persists with a loss making line (and, especially in US, many do - some of the now big tech companies lost money for years and some still do) must either believe that it will eventually come good or that the investment pays a return in other ways (in the tech companies case it is usually in share value expressing hope in the future) 

 

In this case I suspect that the motivation lies in the complex relationship between CaRT and Government regarding the on-going future funding. Increasingly, gov has tied renewed grants to evidence that the end user has made some effort, commensurate with their capacity, to help themselves. The extent to which that succeeds lends evidence to further grant renewals - in which case the argument will have to lie outside the direct benefit to the users. In this case, the benefit of the canals to non-boaters will take on a greater significance. My only real gripe has been that licence payers have not been accorded Friend status but if, as I can now believe, the argument is actually as above, then I can see why CaRT resisted that option.

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1 minute ago, Mike Todd said:

In this case I suspect that the motivation lies in the complex relationship between CaRT and Government regarding the on-going future funding. Increasingly, gov has tied renewed grants to evidence that the end user has made some effort, commensurate with their capacity, to help themselves. The extent to which that succeeds lends evidence to further grant renewals - in which case the argument will have to lie outside the direct benefit to the users. In this case, the benefit of the canals to non-boaters will take on a greater significance. My only real gripe has been that licence payers have not been accorded Friend status but if, as I can now believe, the argument is actually as above, then I can see why CaRT resisted that option.

But as the legislation currently lies, C&RT MUST become self financing and all grants end 2027

 

2 GRANT

2.1 Subject to the terms of this Grant Agreement, Defra shall pay to CRT the Grant as set out below.

2.2 Part A Core Grant The parties agree that Part A Core Grant shall be calculated as follows:

 

2.2.1 £39,000,000 in financial year 2012/13 (being a flat sum, not inflated), less any grant in aid paid by Defra to the British Waterways Board in respect of that financial year.

 

2.2.2 £39,000,000 per annum in financial years 2013/14 and 2014/15 (being a flat sum, not inflated), of which £3,000,000 (the “First Part B Tranche”) will be subject to the conditions precedent to grant set out in Clause 6.3 and the same remedies and other conditions as apply to Part B Conditional Grant.

 

2.2.3 £39,000,000 per annum in financial year 2015/16 and thereafter until financial year 2026/27 inclusive:

(a) to be adjusted annually in accordance with the indexation methodology set out in Schedule 1 (Indexation of Part A Core Grant) from financial year 2015/2016, using financial year 2014/15 as the base year in the first instance; and

(b) if applicable in accordance with Clause 2.3.2(b), an amount of which (being an amount below £4,000,000) is subject to the same conditions precedent to grant, available remedies and other conditions as Part B Conditional Grant. 2.3 Part B Conditional Grant (flat sum, not inflated)

 

2.3.1 The parties agree that Part B Conditional Grant shall be calculated as follows:

(a) Subject to satisfaction of the requirements of Clause 6.4, £10,000,000 per annum from financial year 2015/16 until financial year 2021/2022 inclusive.

(b) Subject to satisfaction of the requirements of Clause 6.4, from financial year 2022/23 until financial year 2026/27 inclusive, £10,000,000 per annum, less the difference between: (i) the amount of the Part A Core Grant in the financial year 2021/22; and 7 (ii) the amount of the Part A Core Grant in the financial year in question, being the “Relevant Part B Conditional Grant” for the purposes of this Clause 2.3.

 

There is no mechanism for the grant to be extended.

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1 hour ago, Alan de Enfield said:

But as the legislation currently lies, C&RT MUST become self financing and all grants end 2027

 

2 GRANT

2.1 Subject to the terms of this Grant Agreement, Defra shall pay to CRT the Grant as set out below.

2.2 Part A Core Grant The parties agree that Part A Core Grant shall be calculated as follows:

 

2.2.1 £39,000,000 in financial year 2012/13 (being a flat sum, not inflated), less any grant in aid paid by Defra to the British Waterways Board in respect of that financial year.

 

2.2.2 £39,000,000 per annum in financial years 2013/14 and 2014/15 (being a flat sum, not inflated), of which £3,000,000 (the “First Part B Tranche”) will be subject to the conditions precedent to grant set out in Clause 6.3 and the same remedies and other conditions as apply to Part B Conditional Grant.

 

2.2.3 £39,000,000 per annum in financial year 2015/16 and thereafter until financial year 2026/27 inclusive:

(a) to be adjusted annually in accordance with the indexation methodology set out in Schedule 1 (Indexation of Part A Core Grant) from financial year 2015/2016, using financial year 2014/15 as the base year in the first instance; and

(b) if applicable in accordance with Clause 2.3.2(b), an amount of which (being an amount below £4,000,000) is subject to the same conditions precedent to grant, available remedies and other conditions as Part B Conditional Grant. 2.3 Part B Conditional Grant (flat sum, not inflated)

 

2.3.1 The parties agree that Part B Conditional Grant shall be calculated as follows:

(a) Subject to satisfaction of the requirements of Clause 6.4, £10,000,000 per annum from financial year 2015/16 until financial year 2021/2022 inclusive.

(b) Subject to satisfaction of the requirements of Clause 6.4, from financial year 2022/23 until financial year 2026/27 inclusive, £10,000,000 per annum, less the difference between: (i) the amount of the Part A Core Grant in the financial year 2021/22; and 7 (ii) the amount of the Part A Core Grant in the financial year in question, being the “Relevant Part B Conditional Grant” for the purposes of this Clause 2.3.

 

There is no mechanism for the grant to be extended.

But that's not to say it won't be.

 

The best way to ensure a future is to make oneself wanted by the maximum number of people (votes matter to politicians!)

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1 hour ago, Alan de Enfield said:

 

There is no mechanism for the grant to be extended.

What about:

 

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/183235/Canal-rivers-grant-agreement.pdf

 

9.3 Notwithstanding the regular content and cycle of Review Meetings, in the financial year 2021/22 a review will take place to consider whether, and if so, the extent to which there is a case to continue to support by Grant the public benefits (including, but not by way of limitation, provision of land drainage, flood mitigation and other public safety benefits) provided by the waterways under CRT’s stewardship beyond the end of the Grant Period. The 2021/22 Review shall take into account, among other matters, CRT’s performance of its obligations arising under the Grant Agreement. Defra shall issue a report setting out the conclusions of this review with regard to continued support of CRT by Grant beyond the term of this Grant Agreement on or before 1 July 2022

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17 hours ago, TheBiscuits said:

 

The new trustees could contract out day to day management of the system to one of the big commercial outfits though.

 

The current government do seem to like using them for lots of things.

 

Only if their pals can trouser the profits.

 

 

 

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12 minutes ago, andy3196 said:

What about:

 

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/183235/Canal-rivers-grant-agreement.pdf

 

9.3 Notwithstanding the regular content and cycle of Review Meetings, in the financial year 2021/22 a review will take place to consider whether, and if so, the extent to which there is a case to continue to support by Grant the public benefits (including, but not by way of limitation, provision of land drainage, flood mitigation and other public safety benefits) provided by the waterways under CRT’s stewardship beyond the end of the Grant Period. The 2021/22 Review shall take into account, among other matters, CRT’s performance of its obligations arising under the Grant Agreement. Defra shall issue a report setting out the conclusions of this review with regard to continued support of CRT by Grant beyond the term of this Grant Agreement on or before 1 July 2022

I may be wrong, but as far as I am aware that is only an 'interim review' and if passed the grant will continue until the Formal end date of 2027,

 

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3 hours ago, Alan de Enfield said:

I may be wrong, but as far as I am aware that is only an 'interim review' and if passed the grant will continue until the Formal end date of 2027,

 

But in reality all that these texts mean is that the Government is not obliged to continue a grant. Since it put the conditions in place to start with it can just as easily change them, albeit using up Parliamentary time. However, I doubt whether that review date will escape the attention of either party! Especially it says that Defra shall issue a report which could only be avoided by legislative change.

 

You can bet your last dollar (or even pint of beer) that much of what CaRT does and says in the period before that review will be geared to maximising it 'performance' in the terms of the Agreement.

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This post will sound a bit like a of a leap of assumption,  but it looks like many of the, well lets say, older paternity here, tend to focus on politics and money being the answer.

 

I see them as the problem. 

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1 hour ago, Rambling Boater said:

This post will sound a bit like a of a leap of assumption,  but it looks like many of the, well lets say, older paternity here, tend to focus on politics and money being the answer.

 

I see them as the problem. 

I'm in the older brigade but think the issue is more about how those scarce resources are managed. Anyway didn't Mr Parry say on TV once that money wasn't a problem?

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