Boaters' Update 28 Feb 2020

In this edition you'll find news of your new representatives (on our governing Council), an update on plans to reduce emissions from boats, important licensing information as well what to expect from this year's Crick Boat Show.

Another spring canal picture

Welcome to the latest edition. I’d like to start with a thank you to all of you who took the time to drop me a line in response to the last edition’s questions about what you’d like to see in Boaters’ Update. If you haven’t got round to it, but have some thoughts on the content then please do have a read and let me know your thoughts.

Elsewhere you will find out who your new boating representatives are on the Canal & River Trust’s governing Council, an update on recent news about reducing emissions from wood burners and an early preview of what you can expect at this year’s Crick Boat Show. As usual, there’s a round-up of other news, stoppages and events also included.

Happy boating,

Damian

In this edition:

News round-up and upcoming events

Recently you may have seen that:

  • 14 Feb – The largest-ever survey of the otter population in the West Midlands is being carried out by us after sightings of the protected animals in the heart of Birmingham.
  • 20 Feb – We announced changes to the price of adult Waterway Wanderers fishing permits.
  • 20 Feb – We welcomed the announcement from Government setting out plans for a £20million package to cut household emissions through a number of local ‘smart energy’ projects, including some using the Midlands’ canal network.

Below I’ve picked out some events and activities that you might be interested in over the next month. There are plenty of other activities and volunteering opportunities if none of the below take your fancy. Just visit the events section of the website to find the perfect one for you.

  • 1 Mar – As strange as it may seem, at least meteorological speaking, but this Sunday is the first day of spring (1 Mar). So what better way to celebrate than getting out by the Regent’s Canal with the IWA for a guided walk?
  • 4 Mar – Fancy being mindful in a meadow? If so, Leicester is the place to be where you can join us for a walk along the River Soar and take part in a free guided mindfulness and meditation exercise at Aylestone meadows.
  • 7 Mar – Further north? That’s not an issue - Take a break and join us for a walk up the beautiful Wigan Flight on the first Saturday of every month, in the company of our amazing volunteers.

………………………………………………...............................................................................................................................................................

New Boater Representatives elected

Council Meeting in Birmingham, September 2018Is it just me or does it feel like we’ve had a rolling cycle of elections, and associated coverage, since last summer? We had local elections, a General Election and now the preliminary stages of the US election and, in among it all, our very own Council elections.

With this in mind, and depending on your level of affection for elections, you may be pleased to know that our Council election has concluded and the elected representatives are as follows:

Private boating:

  • Tim Allen
  • Helen Hutt
  • Dave Mendes da Costa
  • Phil Prettyman

Buisness boating:

  • Heather Duncan
  • Carl Onens

 Volunteers:

  • Ian McCarthy
  • David Williams

Employees:

  • John Ellis

Each elected candidate will take up their voluntary post for four years starting in March 2020.

Stella Ridgway has been appointed as the new representative for Friends of the Trust and David Kent the new angling representative, both appointed without election as they were the sole candidates.

Allan Leighton, chair of the Trust, said: “I would like to thank all those who put themselves forward for election, and all those who voted for them.  I’d also like to thank the outgoing Council members who have contributed to the success of the Trust these past years. 

“The Council plays an important part in the governance of the Trust and brings new voices, ideas and perspectives to our work. As we continue our work to bring to life our 2,000 miles of waterways, I very much look forward to working with the new representatives when they join us in March.”

The Council is made up of elected and independently nominated members including the chairs of the six regional advisory boards and a representative from the Trust’s Welsh Bwrdd. 

It debates important points of principle to provide guidance and perspective from different stakeholders, suggesting issues of concern for the trustees to pursue, and acts as a sounding board for the trustees in relation to the development of proposals and strategy.

Over the coming editions I’ll be profiling your new representatives. Do you have any questions for them? If so, drop me a line and I’ll ask!

………………………………………………...............................................................................................................................................................

Cleaner air, better health

With what seems like a new storm every week, it’s Jorge this weekend, hunkering down in front of a cosy stove to stay out of the worst of the weather seems like a good option. Some boaters have been in touch concerned that stoves will be banned following the government announced this week that as part of the clean air strategy the sale of wet-wood and smokey coal will come into effect from February next year (2021).

To clarify, only the sale of fuels that release higher levels of PM2.5 particles are being banned from sale, you’ll still be able to buy seasoned dry wood and smokeless coal - and the ban is only on the sale of these fuels not their use.

Most boaters are already using smokeless fuels and dry wood so won’t be affected. For those who still use traditional coal and wet wood the higher levels of PM2.5 particles released from these fuels create a greater health risk for you so stopping using these is better for your health. In addition to the type of fuel burned, anyone with a stove should always follow safety advice to make sure their stove is checked and compliant with Boat Safety Scheme requirements.

The fuel sale ban is just part of the government’s clean air proposals there are further plans to update clean air legislation and to reduce emissions from boats. Emissions from inland waterway craft are a very small proportion of total transport emissions but we recognise that every sector needs to do its bit to reduce emissions overall.

The Trust, along with the Association of Inland Navigation Authorities and other navigation authorities are working together to understand the impact future measures might have on inland boating and will be working with the government to try and ensure that any changes do not inadvertently damage the viability of inland boating.

………………………………………………...............................................................................................................................................................

Trust moves towards cash-free transactions

In a world which is increasingly cashless, we’re encouraging more boaters to licence their craft online as we bring forward plans to cease accepting cash payments for large purchases at our offices from 1 April 2020.

Licence Support Officers talking to customerAlthough boaters won’t be able to make large cash purchases, customers will still be able to make payments at the Trust’s office by Debit or Credit card (except AMEX), or by cheques crossed and payable to ‘Canal & River Trust’.

For smaller purchases, such as sanitary station keys, handcuff keys, pump out cards and electricity cards, boaters can use the Trust’s online shop or pay by cash, card, or cheque at the Trust’s customer-facing offices.

Amanda Stratford, business support and licensing manager, comments: “Our online portal is a one-stop-shop to manage your boat licence, from purchasing and renewing your licence to updating your details and letting us know of any changes in your circumstances. Boaters are able to pay by a variety of different means and we would encourage every boater to sign up so they can quickly and efficiently manage their licence admin.”

The Trust will continue to work to support vulnerable boaters. If you know a boater who is struggling, please contact your local licence support officer. More information can be found online. 

While we’re on the subject of boat licences, and as previously announced in March 2018, following our national boat licence consultation, a number of changes are being made to licence fees over five years. 

From 1 April 2020, a 2.5% ‘prompt payment’ discount (reduced from 5%) will apply for those who pay on time in full, and a new 2.5% discount will apply for those who manage their payments online including, for the first time, for boaters paying by direct debit.

This means that boaters who may not be able to afford to pay in one lump sum will also be able to benefit from a small discount on the full licence fee. In addition to the current length-based pricing, from April 2020 we will start the phased introduction of additional pricing bands for boat widths over 2.16m (7ft 1”), as announced in March 2018, with a surcharge of 5% applied until March 2021 (when it will increase to 10%). This means that boats over 2.16m wide will be subject to an increase in licence fees of 7.6% overall from 1 April 2020.

………………………………………………...............................................................................................................................................................

Crick Boat Show 2020

What’s not to like? It’s warm, sometimes sunny, bundles to see and do and in a place where everyone has the same shared passion.

Crick Boat Show 2018Around 26,000 people experience this festival of inland boating every year, over the late May Bank Holiday (23-25 May), at Crick Boat Show. Advance tickets are now on sale for this year’s show, saving up to 15 percent on the entry price.

Of course, if you’ve never been before then you might need to know a bit more before dashing off to buy your tickets. Held over four days (including the Trade & Preview Day) the Show has a huge range:

  • One stop shop: Just about everything you might want to buy for your boat (including the boat itself) can be found at Crick. From composting toilets and boat insurance through to electric propulsion units and cratch covers.
  • Boating knowledge: Seminars on a wide range of boating subjects, suitable for novice and seasoned boaters, run throughout the show. Book your seat to learn more about living afloat or boat maintenance (among others). There’re plenty of boating organisations at the Show too who’ll be happy to have a chat and share their knowledge.
  • Free boating: If you’re relatively new to boating or just fancy someone else taking the tiller for a change then a free trip along the Leicester Line of the Grand Union awaits.
  • Entertainment: What can be more satisfying than a weekend packed full of boating stuff? Topping it off with sensational live music and local ales, that’s what. On both Saturday and Sunday evening of the Show weekend you’ll be treated to renowned headline acts (there’s live music throughout the day too!). This year one of the world’s leading Queen tribute bands ‘Mercury’, and world renowned British band Dr Feelgood will take to the stage on Saturday and Sunday night respectively.
  • Food: You’ll likely work up an appetite as you make your way round the massive Show site, but whatever your preference you’ll probably find a refuelling stop to suit your palate – from curries and pizza through to fish & chips and artisanal gin!
  • Us: You’ll find a broad range of employees and volunteers from the Trust at the show. Come and see us to learn more about (and see) canal dwelling fish or the way we manage water as well as posing any questions about boat licensing or volunteering.

Peter Johns, publisher of Waterways World and show director, says: “We are looking forward to welcoming people to our 2020 Crick Boat Show, established as the top destination for waterways enthusiasts looking to buy a new boat or upgrade or improve their existing boat, and for newcomers wanting to get afloat for the first time or for those seeking a day out by the water.

“Now in its 21st year, the Show hosts the largest display of new inland boats, both narrowboats and wide beams, and for three days it becomes Britain’s largest chandlery when almost 300 exhibitors bring together the complete range of equipment and materials for inland boating.”

Matthew Symonds, national boating manager at the Trust, adds: “Every year Crick Boat Show celebrates Britain’s fantastic network of canals and rivers. We look forward to welcoming thousands of visitors to Crick for a fantastic day out by the Grand Union Canal Leicester Line in the Northamptonshire countryside, with the chance to discover more about the recreation, health and wellbeing opportunities our waterways offer people today.”

Tickets for the Trade & Preview Day on Friday 22 May are only available in advance and are priced at £19.50 each.  Preview Day visitors will have access to the VIP marquee and can pick up a Show gift bag on arrival. Preview Day visitors will also have exclusive access to an online bookings system to guarantee their viewings of boats on Friday 22 May.

All advance tickets will be sent out in May and delivery is free of charge.  Advance tickets can be ordered by phone until 4pm on Friday 15 May 2020 and online until midnight on Sunday 17 May.

………………………………………………...............................................................................................................................................................

Maintenance, repair and restoration work affecting cruising this weekend

As someone who’s out on, or by, the water more often than most, you’ll know that there are times when we need to fix things that unexpectedly break. So, below, you’ll find a list of anything that’s happening that may affect you if you’re planning on a cruise this weekend.

Below you’ll find, by canal or river, those that may affect your plans this weekend. It’s a long list due to the winter stoppage programme, where we carry out major projects when it’s quieter out on the cut:

Wakefield Branch (Aire & Calder Nav)When any restrictions to navigation happen, we get them up on to our website as soon as we can – always best to have a scan before you set off for a cruise. The tech savvy among you may already know that you can set up your smartphone to notify you if a notice is issued for a canal or river that you’re interested in. For those that didn’t know, check out this guide to setting it up.

If you have any questions about a specific closure then just get in touch.

………………………………………………...............................................................................................................................................................

Happy boating,

Damian

Last date edited: 28 February 2020

About this blog

The boaters' update

Think of this blog as your one-stop shop for up-to-date boating news. It's packed full of useful information about boating on canals and rivers, as well as important safety announcements and upcoming events.

Sign up to receive the Boaters' update by email

See more blogs from this author