Despite a year of extremes, from a very dry summer to extreme winter rainfall, our first full year's reporting shows a promising foundation for our new charity. This includes a growth in the number of people volunteering to help and a strong commercial performance, which has led to greater than planned spend on repairing and looking after the network.
Highlights for the year include:
- More than £120m invested in repairing and restoring the waterways, with the proportion of principal assets in the two worst condition grades reduced to 14.7 per cent (2012/13:15.2 per cent)
- 142 lock gates replaced or refurbished and more than 68 miles of waterways dredged, with the removal of over 90,000 m3 of silt
- Completion of the £2m+ repair to the Trent & Mersey Canal following the breach at Dutton
- Major repairs to the Monmouthshire & Brecon and Llangollen canals following the damage wreaked by the winter floods
- 32,440 licensed boats (excluding boat licences of one month or less) as at 31 March 2014 – a 0.4 per cent increase on the number recorded on 31 March 2013 (32,311)
- Volunteers gave over 51,000 days helping to look after the canals and rivers (2012/13: 29,044 days)
- Over 50 community adoption groups now look after a stretch of their local waterway
- Nearly 27,500 children discovered their local canal or river as part of the our volunteer-led Canal & River Explorers programme
- Around 10,000 people visited our winter works open days to see the heart of our repair work to keep their local waterway functioning
- We were presented with a cheque for £50k as the People's Postcode Lottery's ‘charity of the year'
Tony Hales, chairman of Canal & River Trust, comments: “The weather has thrown everything at us this year as we've had to contend with both water shortage and deluge, reminding us just how much care and attention our historic and fragile infrastructure needs.
"Despite this we have been able to hold our own and I am so proud of the way our staff and growing band of volunteers have responded. One of the really exciting changes has been the way so many more people are now involved in running and helping the Trust and I'd like to thank all our employees, volunteers, Friends and all our other financial supporters and partners; and everyone who uses, enjoys and loves the waterways.”
Completing his first year as chief executive, Richard Parry comments: “My first year with the Trust has been thoroughly exhilarating and enjoyable. I have relished the opportunity to get out and meet the people who care for and enjoy the wonderful canals and rivers we're responsible for. This year we have honed our long term strategy, which includes building the broad support that is so important for the future of the waterways. We are also putting the customer at the centre of all the work we do, with a great emphasis on being open and involving others in our decision-making.
“In financial terms we had a successful year, beating our target for income by over £5m and spending more on additional care of the canals as a result. As an illustration of our increased focus on listening to our customers we committed around £1m of the extra funds to clearing some of the off-side vegetation that boaters had told us was a priority.
“It's an exciting year ahead. Continued good financial performance means that we will be able to spend more than planned. We have put aside funds for additional vegetation work this autumn, as well as further dredging and maintenance that will directly improve the experience for our customers. We're doing more to stir interest in the next generation of canal enthusiasts, we have ambitious targets for volunteering and a series of summer open days over the coming weeks to showcase more of our work to the wider community.”