There is also a greater awareness of our activities and an increase in those who feel that resources are being spent where most needed.
63% of boaters said that they trust us to look after the waterways, up from 58% in 2014. The survey shows that there is variation across different demographics, with those with a home mooring or who use the waterways for leisure being most content.
Almost half the respondents (48%) now say they know us very well or a fair amount, up from 35% in 2013/14. This suggests that we have improved our communications and are being more open and transparent, and potentially indicates that people have a greater understanding of our work beyond being simply a licence provider.
Boaters are also more likely to agree that we 'prioritise our spending on what I feel is most needed' with 40% agreeing compared to 30% in 2014.
A new working group
A working group is now taking an in-depth look at the results to see what needs to be improved upon and what is working well. We will provide updates on any actions that will be taken as a result of the research.
Mike Grimes, head of boating at Canal & River Trust, said: “The Boat Owners' Views survey is really important to help understand what's working well and areas where we can improve things for boaters. It's heartening that a growing number of boaters have faith in us to look after the waterways for their benefit, but it is clear that there is still some way to go.
“The survey also shows that there's a growing polarisation between boaters' views. Licence holders have passionately held, often opposing opinions, and we will use the results to help us understand our customers' differing needs. What boaters all have in common is the desire to protect our canals and rivers and preserve the right and ability to navigate them. This is at the core of our mission too and we must all work together to ensure we get the right balance.”
The survey, which was sent to a third of our boat licence holders, was carried out by the independent research consultancy BDRC Continental between 25 February and 25 March 2016. It will be repeated each year with the aim of having contacted the majority of boaters on our waters in each three-year cycle.