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Saturday 7 April

Today's news from the web

  • Canal cops vow to cut crime on Staffordshire waterways thisisstaffordshire.co.uk

    Police have launched a crackdown on crime on waterways across North Staffordshire. The Canal Watch scheme will see officers patrol trouble spots along Staffordshire's 154 miles of canal towpath to keep them safe....


Wednesday 4 April

Wey & Arun Canal Centre opens at Loxwood

A crowd of over 200 enthusiastic supporters and guests attended the official opening of the Wey & Arun Canal Trust’s new visitor centre, at Loxwood in West Sussex, on 1st April.  

Mike Coleman, Chairman of West Sussex County Council, cut the red ribbon and saluted the exceptional work by all the volunteers. 

The new building is only the latest presence of the Trust at Loxwood, which forms the heart of the restoration. The first was a wooden ticket office in the car park, followed by what they called the ‘black shed’, a corrugated iron lean-to behind the nearby Onslow Arms pub. 
But in the last decade, with 10,000 boat passengers a year and tens of thousands towpath walkers, this had become completely inadequate. 

The Trust then started thinking about a larger log cabin. However, a chance meeting with generous sponsors led to an even more ambitious ideas for a very ‘green’ building. Designed by Fordingbridge, a specialist in environmentally sensitive buildings, the new centre uses sustainably sourced materials and exceptionally low energy requirements.  The centre has been entirely financed by private fund-raising by Trust supporters.

Speaking at the ceremony, Sally Schupke, the Trust’s chairman, said she hoped Loxwood residents would be proud of the canal in their village. She remembers that one of the first jobs canal restorers had carried out in the area was to remove tons of glass from the canal bed behind the Onslow Arms, which had been used as a bottle dump. 

The opening ceremony also honoured Tim Jolly, a Trust stalwart who died in 2010 at the age of 62. Tim used to spend most summer Sundays at Loxwood helping on the Trust’s publicity stand and sharing his enthusiasm with visitors. 

Sally Schupke also paid tribute to all volunteers who had been involved in the building, including project manager John Pryce and the Trust’s conservation adviser, Ian Burton , who produced the landscaping design.  

The Canal Centre is now open every weekend until the Autumn. Further information is available on the website www.weyandarun.co.uk.

Andrew Denny  | 11.58am | add a comment


Today's news from the web

  • Weeks of dry weather spark waterway fears expressandstar.com

    Weeks of dry weather have sparked drought fears across the Midlands – with the River Severn almost running dry in parts. These pictures show how the water level of one of the Midlands’ main waterways has dipped alarmingly in Bridgnorth from its usual buoyant levels, mirroring the picture for other rivers in the region. Half as much water is flowing through them as in the great drought of 1976, experts said today. And river flows on the Severn are the second lowest on record for this time of year....

  • Folly of the Salt Works project northwichguardian.co.uk

    Letter to the Northwich Guardian: "Plans to restore the Lion Salt Works in Marston and open it as a ‘working museum and conference centre’ [are] so removed from the original as to become almost worthless... "If the museum is as successful as its supporters hope it’s going to be, the volume of large vehicles using an old, narrow canal bridge is surely going to grow massively. In my opinion, this provides the classic circumstances for an accident waiting to happen. ...

  • Maureen Shaw's daughter pays tribute to community for her mother's 'amazing' send off middlewichguardian.co.uk

    A LEGEND of Middlewich's waterways who died in March following a long illness had a send off to match her remarkable life on Friday. Maureen Shaw's coffin was transported by boat along the Trent and Mersey Canal from her former home at Wardle Lock to the funeral at St Michael's Church. The narrowboat Tay transported Maureen for her final voyage which is the sister boat of Spey, which she used when she worked on the canals. Around 50 people followed the boat on foot along the towpath to pay their respects....


Tuesday 3 April

New Trust Council holds inaugural meeting

The Canal and River Trust began to take firmer shape in March, with the convening of the 35-member Council in Birmingham, and the confirmation of the transition trustees in permanent roles. 


In a surprise announcement, chairman Tony Hales said he would step down in April next year. However, no announcement was made about the BW directors, who were expected to continue in the same roles in the new Trust.  


Much of the focus of this inaugural meeting was in the members getting to know each other and understanding their role and powers. All council members are appointed for fixed four year terms.  One of their key tasks was to confirm the 11 transition trustees in their roles for an initial three years. 


The Council will meet twice yearly, with the next meeting scheduled for September.  All meeting minutes will be published online. 


Meanwhile, on 29th February Parliament began scrutinising the draft order for turning British Waterways into the new Canal & River Trust. The delays introduced by the extended negotiating over funding of the Trust means that Parliament’s approval is unlikely to be forthcoming before early May.  


The path to the new Trust has not been smooth. In particular, several people have questioned the legitimacy of the process that has led to the Council convening at all. To try to answer these questions, BW gave a six-point summary of the issues of setting up the new Canal & River Trust on its website, pointing out that Parliament had never attempted anything quite like this; there was no precedent to the process.   


Andrew Denny  | 9.47am | add a comment


Thursday 29 March

Today's news from the web

  • Boaters protest at hike in charges oxfordtimes.co.uk

    Boaters are complaining their mooring fees have risen by more than a third in three years on a stretch of the Oxford Canal in the city. Thirteen boaters live on narrowboats near Hythe Bridge Street in the city centre and pay for residential moorings from British Waterways. The cost is set to rise to £194.66 a year from April – up eight per cent on the previous year’s fees. Boaters say that means an increase of more than 33 per cent since 2010 and could force them to move elsewhere....


Monday 26 March

Today's news from the web

  • North Walsham and Dilham Canal restored for wildlife eveningnews24.co.uk

    Volunteers have spent the past three-and-a-half years clearing Briggate Mill Pond which had become completely choked with trees, shrubs and weeds, according to David Revill, work party organiser with the East Anglian Waterways Association. The pond is part of the near nine-mile North Walsham and Dilham Canal, which has been neglected since 1934 when the last wherry sailed there. Locals remembered swimming and canoeing around Briggate Mill pond some 20-30 years ago but it had been overgrown and without water for several years, said Mr Revill, who is also a trustee of the North Walsham and Dilham Canal Trust, formed in 2008....

  • Drought's impact on one Norfolk river edp24.co.uk

    The River Great Ouse in the heart of King’s Lynn may have to be dredged for the first time in six years amid falling water levels and a drought. The river is being regularly monitored by the Conservancy Board as it dropped to 1.4m during low tide this week – leaving ferry passengers having to use a temporary jetty to get to the boat. There are now concerns about the impact the drought might have on the river and the town’s harbour....

  • 'Lock rage' fears on canals as opening times are cut in drought dailymail.co.uk

    Canal chiefs are reducing the times that locks are open to save water as the drought worsens. ... It means boaters may face long queues to pass through locks and officials fear the bottlenecks could cause ‘lock rage’. An Inland Waterways Association spokesman said: ‘There will be lock rage incidents. Some will even “jump” locks.’ He explained that the latter occurs when two boats approach a narrow lock and race to be the first in. ...

  • Call for research into Lancaster Canal Corridor North bbc.co.uk

    A report into the heritage of Lancaster's Canal Corridor North Area has recommended further research into its "archaeological potential". The report by The Conservation Studio was commissioned by English Heritage and developer Centros. A £150m proposal for the area by Centros was rejected following a public inquiry in 2009....


Friday 23 March

CCT ‘shocked’ at Dudbridge funding loss

The Cotswold Canals Trust was said to be ‘shocked and frustrated’ that although it came second in the recent British Gas Energyshare scheme to win funding for its Dudbridge Locks hydro plan, it was passed over in the final selection. The winning projects were ranked 3rd, 4th, 15th, 17th and 23rd in public votes.

“Anyone visiting the Energyshare website would have understood that the public vote effectively chose who got funded””, said CCT chief executive Ken Burgin. “The small print did indeed give Energshare the right to select the finalists, but we assumed this gave them the opportunity to reject non-viable schemes.  Instead, they used this to pick who they fancied with scant regard for public support.

“If they wanted to do this, they should have done it before wasting everyone’s time and pointlessly raising everyone’s hopes.”   

Andrew Denny  | 4.47pm | add a comment


HNBC drops O

The Historic Narrow Boat Owners Club has dropped the ‘Owners’ part of its name. The club said that the requirement of members to actually own a historic boat was removed a few years ago, and the change reflects this.

 

Now called HNBC, the club was founded in 1966 as the Narrow Boat Owners Club, at a time when nearly all traditional narrow boats were ex-working boats. At the time, nearly all leisure boats were small cruisers, and the needs of these original ‘knights of the waterways’ were overlooked. ‘Historic’ was added in 1989, since by then their numbers were being overtaken by the modern form of narrowboat.

 

The club says it wants to draw in anybody who shares its aims, whether or not they actually own a narrowboat. The aims include the preservation and operation of traditional working boat, campaigning for waterways heritage, and training new people in the working practices of such boats, so that the skills are not lost. In particular the club wants to ensure that the waterways are properly navigable for all such full-length deep-drafted boats. “Because wherever they can go, anyone can go!”, is their mantra.  

Andrew Denny  | 2.35pm | add a comment


Today's news from the web

  • Restoration of Lune Aqueduct takes shape waterscape.com

    Works to restore the 200-year old Lune Aqueduct is reaching the final stages as British Waterways’ contractors complete main repairs and improvement works. Following a £1 million pound grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund in January 2011, which was matched funded by British Waterways and partners, a £2.4m programme of works to restore the 200-year old aqueduct to its former glory has been undertaken. The two-year restoration of the Lune Aqueduct included repairing the canal channel, removing vegetation and graffiti, undertaking re-pointing and masonry repairs and improving public access to this historically significant site....

  • £2million Cotswold canal contract awarded stroudnewsandjournal.co.uk

    Stroud’s canal ‘missing link’ is set to be plugged this year, with contractors moving in to build a new 330m length of canal just below Dr Newton’s Way. The £2m contract at Capels Mill has been awarded by Stroud District Council to Alun Griffiths (Contractors) Ltd of Abergavenny, a company specialising in canal and waterway work....

  • The life of a Canal du Midi lock keeper bbc.co.uk

    A civil servant with a strong sense of duty, Sylvian Godfroy literally lives for his work. Mr Godfroy is a lock keeper on the Canal du Midi which runs through Toulouse. Originally he wanted to be a vet but fell in love with a lock keeper's daughter and now lives on the canal, housed by the state, at one of the city's locks. The canal has shaped his life in many ways. He has been working on it for over 30 years, a fact which has earned him the nickname 'Papy' or grandad from his workmates....

  • Family's incredible escape from sinking car that plunged into Bridgewater canal and filled with water dailymail.co.uk

    'I thought I was going to die, but didn't want to leave my wife': Family's incredible escape from sinking car that plunged into canal and filled with water BMW hit a brick and careered from the road into a canal Heroic firefighters jumped into the water and helped save the lives of elderly couple Two teenage schoolboys also praised after joining in with the rescue effort ...


Thursday 22 March

First full waterway partnership panels announced

The Canal & River Trust, the new waterways charity due to become the guardian of the canals and rivers in England and Wales later this year, has appointed its first members to three of the new waterways partnerships.

The partnerships work with the local management teams to guide the development of canals and rivers in their areas.

The Manchester & Pennines partnership, chaired by Walter Menzies and with David Baldacchino as waterway manager, will consist of Tayo Adebowale, Ian Banks, Graham Birch, Dave Champness, Lynda Jubb, Keith Sexton, Nigel Stevens, Jon Stopp, Iain Taylor and Mark Turner.

The North Wales & Borders partnership, chaired by Jim Forrester and managed by Wendy Capelle, includes Belinda Davenport, Gillian Edwards, Bill Furniss, Chris Koral, Helen Paterson, Alan Platt, Jane Staley and Steve Stamp.

The South Wales & Severn partnership is chaired by Jack Hegarty, and managed by Nick Worthington. Members are Grant Addison, Julian Atkins, Jan van Der Elsen, Lois Frances, Alasdair Kirkpatrick, Clive Matthews, Robert Moreland, Robert Pearce and David Wheeler.

Further details of the appointments, and backgrounds of the new members, can be found on www.waterscape.com/features-and-articles/news/3303/waterways-partnerships-announce-appointment-of-new-members

Andrew Denny  | 11.06am | add a comment


Wednesday 21 March

BW maps show drought – but only in a small part of the waterways network

In an echo of the annual winter works stoppages, BW has started to put out maps showing lock closures and opening hours in areas with growing water shortages.

The maps can be found on the new ‘Reservoir Watch’ section of the Waterscape web site.  A national map showing where drought restrictions are biting will be supplemented by more detailed maps focusing on the areas in question. The restrictions include a series of overnight lock closures, restricted opening hours and an obligation on boaters to share locks where possible, to help eke out critical reservoir levels.

It has been the driest year on record in some parts of southern and central England, and the Environment Agency recently confirmed official drought conditions in the South East.

And yet, for waterways users, it still appears to be a localised problem. Currently, six areas have a ‘critical’ water situation: 

  • The Kennet & Avon, east of Devizes 
  • The River Stort, north of London 
  • The Grand Union on the Chiltern approaches to London 
  • The Grand Union’s Leicester Summit 
  • The Grand Union summit between Braunston and Buckby (Norton Junction) 
  • The South Oxford, south of Napton Junction 

The Northampton arm of the Grand Union (down to the River Nene) will also close from mid-April, opening only briefly on specific dates for boat festivals. This will protect the water supply on the more critical route from Buckby locks down as far as Milton Keynes. The Hillmorton and Calcutt locks drawing their water from the ‘Braunston pound’ will also see restrictions.

BW staff will consider other special openings at certain peak times, such as bank holidays, the Crick Boat Show or boaters attending the Olympics or the Diamond Jubilee Pageant.

The maps clearly show a ‘compartmentalised’ situation, with no restrictions planned in other areas. 

Vince Moran, operations director, is urging boaters to go to other areas of the country: 

“Only a small proportion of the network will be affected so if boaters don’t need to be in the South East then what better opportunity to explore another hidden corner of the nationwide canal system?” 



Andrew Denny  | 4.40pm | add a comment


Tuesday 20 March

The ins and outs of setting up the Canal & River Trust

The Waterscape website has published a summary of the process of setting up the new Canal & River Trust

After a substantial amount of suspicion and mistrust among many canal 'activists', the 1,000-word document might clear up some issues, but is unlike to quell them all.  Nevertheless, it clearly outlines six steps being undertaken: 

  1. Transfer Order - This is the government instrument that transfer BW's statutory functions and amends legislation. It involves parliamentary scrutiny, a vote by Lords and Commons, and then a signing-off by the Environment Secretary. Waterscape says that "it is perfectly normal for such legislation to be considered by Parliament in anticipation of a transaction and before all the other pieces of the jigsaw are in place. 

  2. Transfer Scheme - transferring ownership of BW's approximately £500million of assets to the new Canal & River Trust. This is subject to conditions in the Trust Settlement and Grant funding agreement (3 and 4 following), so is not completed until those are settled.

  3. Trust Settlement - This sets out the terms under which the waterways will be held by the new Trust on behalf of the nation 'in perpetuity'. 

  4. Grant Funding Agreement - This is the 'meat' of the financial side. It sets the government's terms for providing (approximately) £750 million of funding over 15 years, as well as protecting BW's £500 milllion of assets for their primary purpose of providing revenues for the maintenance of the waterways. The terms of this agreement are interdependent with the terms of the Trust Settlement (above) and the Articles of Association (below), and so cannot be completed until the terms of those instruments are also settled.

  5. Articles of Association -  BW said the Canal & River Trust was set up last September with a temporary set of Articles of Association in order to get the company registered at Companies House. Some of those articles were said at the time to be dependent on the eventual terms of the Trust Settlement and Grant Funding Agreement, and would need alteration - for example to cater for the role of the new overseeing Council.

  6. Charitable Registration -The Canal & River Trust was set up initially as non-trading 'shell' company (officially "a private company limited by guarantee with charitable objects"), and did not need to be registered as a registered charity until it has £5,000 or more of income annually. Defra has said the application for charitable registration could not proceed until the terms of the Trust Settlement, the Grant Funding Agreement and the revised Articles of Association are settled. However, they also say that charity registration is "on track in accordance with the project plan". 

Andrew Denny  | 4.40pm | add a comment


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