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News article created on 29 July 2016

Boaters' Update

I’ll keep this edition’s introduction as brief as possible as there is a lot to get through! Among other stories there’s news of the Trust's Annual Report, winter moorings, head of boating Mike Grimes’s monthly column returns, and there’s a very sad report of two tragic boating accidents.

Anderton Boat Lift Anderton Boat Lift

I’ll keep this edition’s introduction as brief as possible as there is a lot to get through! Among other stories there’s news of the Trust's Annual Report, winter moorings, head of boating Mike Grimes’s monthly column returns, and there’s a very sad report of two tragic boating accidents. 

As always, if there’s a particular topic you’d like to see in a future edition, or a regular feature you think will be useful, then please drop me a line. In the meantime, click on the links below to jump to the article of your choice:

Happy boating,

Damian

News round-up and the fortnight ahead

Since the last edition you may have heard, or seen, that:

And here are just some of the things happening over the next fortnight:

  • 30 Jul – There’s a great day to be had at the Goytre Wharf Open Day with boat trips, marina tours, a dog agility show and bird of prey demonstrations to name just a few.
  • 30 & 31 Jul – The Yorkshire Waterways Museum is hosting FolkSail Festival and there's lots of fun for the whole family including heritage boats, a children’s fun zone and boat trips.
  • 30 & 31 Jul – Why not treat yourselves to a day out at this year's Dewbury Festival where you’ll find an energetic Saturday in the form of a Try-athlon with a mix of fun family waterway activities. Sunday is the more traditional canal festival with stalls, boat trips and a fairground.
  • 4 to 7 Aug – Stockton International Riverside Festival is back with its unique blend of street theatre, circus performances, dancing, carnival and music. As well as an opening show by 'Furious Folly', a show combining music, performance and mechanical creations based on World War 1.

Of course, there are plenty of other activities and volunteering opportunities around the network so please visit the events section of the website to find the perfect one for you.

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Annual Report published

Despite Mother Nature’s best attempts – think of the damage she caused in the Calder Valley – it’s been a good year for the Trust. Earlier this week the Annual Report & Accounts were published and reported that:

  • Expenditure on the waterways rose by 8% to £128 million, including work on culverts and embankments; channel relining and; 135 winter lock repairs.
  • Less disruption for boaters, including a significant drop of almost 300 days in unplanned closures compared with 2014/15.
  • An estimated 380 million visits made in total over the course of the year.
  • A 50% increase in the number of community canal adoptions in the year to nearly 150.
  • An 88% approval rating from a growing band of volunteers who gave nearly half a million hours of their time (up 17% on the previous year).
  • 15,800 Friends regularly donating to the Trust – an increase of 60% on the same point the previous year.
  • Education, youth and volunteer programmes have seen substantial increases – 64,000 children experienced the Trust’s Explorers education work.

Chair, Allan Leighton, comments: "It has been a good year for the Trust as we continue to work to secure a wonderful future for the waterways.

"The growth in volunteering and partnerships with organisations as diverse as the Arts Councils in England and Wales, The Scout Association, Help for Heroes and Rolls Royce, plus numerous local authorities, charitable trusts and local canal societies, illustrates the considerable progress being made.

Summer along the canal"Of course, it is the people who live on, use or visit the waterways that continue to make them the special places that they are. We want to continue to harness this passion and whilst reaching out to a greater diversity of communities, so that our canals and rivers can be inclusive of the millions of people living and working around them."

Chief exec, Richard Parry, adds: "This year we have increased expenditure on the waterways and improved the overall average condition of our locks, bridges and other historic infrastructure, leading to less disruption for our boating customers.

“Our extensive and rich local engagement speaks clearly of the progress we are making in growing support for our work among communities and the public at large. As we pass our fourth anniversary we have good reason to be optimistic that we have put in place strong foundations to rise to the challenges ahead."

The report praises the response from staff and volunteers to the Boxing Day Floods in which communities have rallied to clean up and repair their local canals and towpaths. By the end of March volunteers had spent over 3,500 hours helping with the clean-up.

Also in the year, we formed Bwrdd Glandŵr Cymru to recognise and embrace the devolution of power in Wales and a joint project team formed with the Environment Agency has been looking into the potential transfer of the Environment Agency’s 640 miles of river navigations to the Trust.

The Trust’s Annual Public Meeting will be taking place on 22 September. If you’re interested you can find out more about attending.

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Head of boating Mike Grimes’s monthly column

After a short hiatus Mike Grimes, head of boating, shares his thoughts on the results published in the Annual Report:

Mike Grimes“In my, so far, short tenure as head of boating I’ve met literally hundreds of boaters. I mentioned, back in one of my first columns, that every single one, without fail, was passionate about the waterways. This hasn’t changed since I first wrote about it.

“As mentioned in the article above, we increased our annual spending on infrastructure maintenance and repair by 8% to £128 million. We spent some of this money responding to the damage caused by the Boxing Day floods for example and the major damage to a section of the Kennet & Avon after a paddle was left open.

“What is also reported is the reduction in the number of days where cruising is affected by unplanned stoppages. You might think that given the severity of the damage from just those two incidents that there would be an increase on the previous year but, thankfully, there’s not. Quite the opposite – they were reduced by nearly a third.

“Please don’t think that we’re all stood around patting each other on the back. My team, and the wider Trust, know that the only way we’ll be able to present an equally positive report next year is by working just as hard over the coming months.

“No, the reason I mention those two particular statistics from the Annual Report is because they underline our renewed emphasis on customer service. For us in the boating team this literally translates to ‘improving a boater’s lot’. And, linking back to my opening paragraph, the almost-tangible passion most boaters have is reflected in my team’s desire to achieve just that – improving your time on the water.

“As you’ve read in past editions of Boaters’ Update, such as a fortnight ago when the London Mooring Strategy was talked about, we’re working on a wide range of projects and really want them to make a positive change to your boating experience. So, in the future, if you’re out cruising and something isn’t right let us know. Equally, if you’ve just had a wonderful day on the cut then by all means get in touch (that would be great too!). Happy boating.”

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Tragic boating accidents

It’s not often you’ll read something so terribly sad in Boaters’ Update but we thought this was something worth talking about in the hope that it inspires others to take precautions they might not always think are necessary.

Just over two weeks ago a couple were out on a cruise. The husband had disembarked to open a swing bridge and his wife waited at the tiller while on tickover.

While waiting on deck, the woman lost her balance and fell overboard, becoming trapped beneath the boat. Despite the efforts of passers-by and emergency services the woman died in hospital. Our thoughts and condolences go to all involved.

More recently, another tragic accident took the life of a man while in a lock. In both cases, what must have seemed like a perfectly routine and harmless situation quickly turned into a tragedy.

In sharing this, we hope that next time you’re out on the water you’ll pause for thought and consider, regardless of how benign the environment is, how you could make your boating safer – maybe a life jacket? Maybe a tidy up of the stern deck? Maybe even a postponement due to fog? Whatever it is, it could make all the difference.

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Maintenance, repair and restoration work affecting cruising this weekend

While we work hard to protect the 200+ year old network of canals and rivers and keep them in tip-top condition, it’s not always possible. The list below is what we already know will affect cruising over the coming weekend. This list highlights those instances where, for one reason or another, cruising won’t be possible.

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.

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Winter moorings 2016/17

The glorious weather of a couple of weeks ago may have pushed thoughts of a damp and dreary winter to the back of your mind but I’m just about to wrench it back to the front!

Anderton Boat Lift and surrounding area covered in snowYes, it’s that time of year when we publish news of winter moorings – vital for some continuous cruisers. In winter, the more challenging weather conditions can make cruising a harder prospect and we appreciate that not every boater wants to face the icy winds, early dusk and rock-hard ground that the season can bring. Winter moorings give boaters across the country a chance to tie up for the season, while keeping enough space clear for those who want to continue cruising.

Winter moorings will go on sale on a first come, first served basis from Monday 3 October via our web licensing site where you can book your permit. If you don’t have an account on our web licensing site yet, but are a current licence-holder, make sure you select an option to register under ‘I am an existing Canal & River Trust customer’.

2016/17 winter mooring locations and prices:

This year winter moorings will be available at fixed locations between 1 November 2016 - 31 March 2017. Winter mooring permits will be available to purchase for 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 months.

There are four price bands for the 2016/17 winter moorings depending of what is available at or nearby.

  • Band 1 - £15 per meter/per month – a visitor mooring site with mooring rings or bollards, in/within walking distance of a popular village/town/location with local amenities.  There are good facilities at or nearby (including water, elsan, pumpout and rubbish facilities) and good public transport links (for example the site is close to a station/public transport routes or, in London, is in travel zone 1-4).
  • Band 2- £13.50 per metre/per month – a visitor mooring site with mooring rings or bollards, in/within walking distance of a popular village/town/location with local amenities.  This site has good facilities (most including water, elsan, pumpout and rubbish facilities).
  • Band 3 - £10.00 per metre/per month – this could be a visitor mooring or towpath site with some facilities on site or within a short cruise.  The site is likely to be quite close to a village or town.
  • Band 4 - £6.50 per metre/per month – a quieter towpath location, which doesn’t have any facilities on site.

For more information please see the documents below:

In mid-August we’ll be publishing maps showing each winter mooring site.

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Changes to Canal & River Trust Midlands

From Monday (1 Aug), the Central Shires Waterway teams, and their roles and responsibilities, will be absorbed into the neighbouring East Midlands, West Midlands and Manchester & Pennine waterways. 

The change will have little or no impact on operational and customer service staff in Central Shires and adjacent waterways, with teams continuing as before.

Early in 2017, we plan to open a new central Birmingham base to replace our existing Fazeley office. Our front of house service – where you can pop in to chat to us – will be transferred to Cambrian House in Birmingham while the Fazeley facilities building will continue to be operational.

Ian Rogers, customer service & operations director, said: "I’d like to thank the Central Shires team, and its volunteer partnership, for all they have contributed over the past four years. Despite their sterling work, however, they have always faced the challenge that the waterway lacks a clear regional identity and does not fit with the way many of our key stakeholders – such as local authorities and business groups – are organised. By absorbing Central Shires into its neighbouring waterways we will be more aligned with our prospective partners, and better placed to establish and grow our local presence.  This change will not affect the great work our staff and volunteers do out on the bank and in the communities around our waterways."

Here are the new waterways boundaries

The new office will overlook the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal, is within two minutes of Birmingham Snow Hill station and less than ten minutes from Birmingham New Street.  

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Bits and Bobs

  • Can you help us keep our maps up to date? As many know we’ve developed a simple online form for boaters to report any differences they spot between our maps and what they come across out on the cut. I blogged about it a while ago – read now for more info! Your help is greatly appreciated…

Happy boating!

Damian

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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 important safety announcements and upcoming events

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