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Tuesday 13 March

Results announced of the first elections for CRT council

The results of the first elections to be held for the Canal & River Trust council were announced on Monday, amid concerns about the low response from eligible voters.  

Clive Henderson, Ivor Caplan, Vaughan Welch and Ann Farrell will represent private boaters on the new council. 

Nigel Stevens of northern hireboat company Shire Cruisers, and Tony Matts of Foxton Boat Services, will represent the interests of ‘boating businesses’. 

Representing the employees of the new Trust will be Chris Bailey, currently Enterprise Manager in BW’s West Midlands region. 

Barely 26% of the 28,805 eligible boaters took part in electing their representative, while around 37%  of the 1,036 boating businesses voted. The figure for the 1,751 employees of the new Trust (including BW and Waterways Trust staff) was slightly higher, at 44%. 

As current IWA chairman Clive Henderson is already a familiar figure in waterways politics, as are both Vaughan Welch (an IWA trustee) and Ivor Caplan (a former chairman and leading light of the Residential Boat Owners Association). Ann Farrell, standing as a private candidate and active canal boater, is familiar to many in North West waters as a former Chester City councillor responsible for leisure and conservation in the city until 2007. 

The seven new councillors will join 28 already nominated by various organisations or co-opted, in the inaugural meeting in Birmingham on 28th March. 

Andrew Denny  | 11.26am | add a comment


Monday 12 March

Dispute about role of the new Canal & River Trust council

A former legal adviser to the IWA caused a stir when he pointed out that the newly elected Council of the Canal & River Trust would have no legal powers.

John Burrell, a former solicitor and holder of the IWA’s Cyril Styring award for his legal advice to the association, said he had studied the Articles of Association carefully. "The statement on Waterscape that ‘The Council will have the power to appoint or dismiss the Trustees’ is wrong", he argued. "There are only two members of the Canal & River Trust – British Waterways Board and the Secretary of State (DEFRA).

"The Articles of Association contain no references to a council or trustee. The persons or organisations elected or appointed to the council will only become members of the Company if they apply for membership of the Company, and the Directors approve their membership. It is only such persons or organisations that have so become members of the Company that will be able to take part in resolutions of members to appoint or dismiss Directors."

John Dowell, the main transition trustee, gave us this statement:

"The Trust was deliberately set up using temporary Articles, because the public Consultation had not closed nor had the funding deal been agreed. An advisory committee, set up by Defra, identified the eight initial trustees. The Trust had to start somewhere!

"The Articles will be revised before the waterways are transferred, including provision for the Council to take on the role of appointing/dismissing Trustees (including the existing ones). Far from the government ‘getting the waterways off its books’ we will be outside old regime of grant cuts and variable objectives and with Government paying known sums for 15 years. 

"I know of Mr Burrell’s legal background. May I invite him to think of volunteering to help CRT?"

Andrew Denny  | 10.01am | add a comment


Today's news from the web

  • Approved canal marina plan will be ‘tourist boost’ harboroughmail.co.uk

    Ambitious plans for a 220-berth marina on the Grand Union Canal near North Kilworth have been given the nod. The plans, which were first approved more than a year ago only to be called-in by Harborough District Council and turned down at the second time of asking, received unanimous backing at a council planning committee meeting on Tuesday. Applicant Mike Goode said the plans had been altered since the last application to allay some of the fears over access to the site, which would be from the eastern edge of North Kilworth....

  • Trust to protect Tiverton to Taunton waterways thisisthewestcountry.co.uk

    The new Friends of the Grand Western Canal organisation will come into existence next month with a launch event at the Tiverton Basin. The organisation’s chairman, Robert Hodgson, said the aim of the group is to support the management of the Grand Western Canal Country Park in Devon. He said: “The canal is a great resource for residents and visitors to our area....


Friday 9 March

Five more CRT waterways partnership chairs appointed

On 9th March the new Canal & River Trust announced five more 'chairs' of the waterways partnerships that will manage the regions when the Trust takes over.  

The new chairs are:

·        North East: Mark Penny, previously a director of Yorkshire Water and last year’s president of the Institute of Water. 

·        Central Shires: Charlotte Atkins, former MP for Staffordshire Moorlands.

·        East Midlands: Danny Brennan of Brennan Interim, a management services company.

·        London: Brian Fender, a former chief executive of the Higher Education Funding Council.

·        South East: John Best, formerly chief executive of Milton Keynes Council.

The new chairs will themselves shortly begin recruiting members for their respective waterways partnerships. Each partnership should include a selection of interests, including boaters, waterway users and local businesses and the community, as well as heritage and environmental specialists and people with experience in fundraising and volunteering.

Lynne Berry, CRT trustee and member of the Transition Appointments Committee, which selected the chairs, said: “As each will play an integral role, assisting with the management of 2,000 miles of canals and rivers across England and Wales, it’s imperative that along with a passion for our waterways, they possess business leadership skills and be experienced influencers and negotiators.

The new chairs will also sit on the Trust’s national council, and are expected to bring experience in a number of important areas including regeneration and planning, partnership building and community engagement and water management and operations, as well as an understanding of how local and national government works. 

Only the All-Wales Waterways Partnership role now remains to be filled.

Andrew Denny  | 11.39am | add a comment


Today's news from the web

  • Signs in Melksham are good for Wilts & Berks canal trek thisiswiltshire.co.uk

    Walkers will find it easier to retrace the route of Melksham’s former waterway, thanks to grants which have paid for new signs. Volunteers with the Wilts and Berks Canal Trust have just finished placing the markers at various points where the canal once passed through the town. The 19 signs were paid for with a £200 grant from Melksham Town Council, £300 from the charity and almost £500 from Melksham Area Board....


Thursday 8 March

Sir Samuel Whitbread is the new patron of the waterway his ancestor couldn’t reach

The Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Trust (B & MK) has said that Sir Samuel Whitbread, KCVO, has agreed to become the trust’s first patron.

The news is heavy with symbolism. Last year the B & MK celebrated the 200th anniversary of the original plan to create a waterway linking the Grand Junction Canal (now the Grand Union at Milton Keynes) with the Great Ouse at Bedford. The 1812 plan, never realised, was sponsored by the original Samuel Whitbread (the then-MP for Bedford and scion of the original Whitbread brewery business) along with the Duke of Bedford. 

Though no longer involved in brewing, the Whitbread family is still rooted in Bedfordshire, with interests in farming, forestry and the landscape. Sir Samuel, a former Lord Lieutenant of the county, said: “I very much hope that the Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Trust will be able to complete what my ancestor supported but was unable to bring to fruition. It is indeed a very exciting project which I am glad to support.”

While fulfilment of the dream is a long way off, the B&MK Trust expects that the first stretch of the waterway will be dug this year as part of the Marston Vale Innovation Park.


Andrew Denny  | 1.17pm | add a comment


Wednesday 7 March

Diamond Jubilee river pageant is a golden opportunity for extra Thames Barrier tests

The Thames Diamond Jubilee River Pageant on 3rd June will provide a unique opportunity for London to stress-test the Thames Barrier. 


The Barrier is normally fully closed once a year to ensure it is working correctly. However, it is rarely kept closed for long, to avoid inconveniencing vessels passing through.

 

But on the day of the pageant the river will be closed to normal traffic. This will allow the Barrier to remain closed for 14 hours, from 9:30am to 11:30pm, ensuring the river contains sufficient water for the 1,000-strong flotilla and letting the barrier operators carry out a range of extra tests to see how it performs in extreme conditions.  

 

"The pageant gives us a unique opportunity to test its design for a longer period than we would normally be able to”, said the Thames Barrier’s flood risk manager, Andy Batchelor. “We will be able to maintain a higher water level upstream than downstream, giving us a chance to test how the barrier performs under these conditions." 

Andrew Denny  | 12.56pm | add a comment


Sustrans gets £1.4 million to upgrade towpaths

Cycling route charity Sustrans is to receive more than £1.4 million for upgrading canal towpaths in four places, at Oxford, Dudley, Wolverhampton and Leeds.

 

The money comes from the Department for Transport’s Community Linking Places fund, and will top up local funding to allow a total of £2.5 million in towpath improvements.

 

In Oxford, £350, 000 is to be spent on the towpath through the city’s Jericho district, including better access points to the waterway.

 

In the West Midlands, £604,000 is being added to the £500,000 already being spent on the Dudley no. 2 Canal Project. The canal will get extra towpath links to workplaces and schools. The funding will also replace steps with ramps on several bridges.

 

Another £1.1 million is to be spent on improving the towpath at Wolverhampton, including creating ‘excellent safe routes’ to schools.

 

Meanwhile, at Leeds, £450,000 will resurface 2km of towpath within the city, as part of the National Cycle Network’s Route 66, which runs from Hull to Manchester.

Andrew Denny  | 12.42pm | add a comment


Today's news from the web

  • Confusion over Burton canal booze ban raises head again burtonmail.co.uk

    A booze ban canalside at Burton upon Trent will remain in force — after a Police Community Support officer won a second fight to keep it going. PCSO Chris Blanksby had to defend his application for the order on a stretch of land from Princess Way, Stretton, to the Shobnall Leisure Complex, before East Staffordshire Borough Council’s licensing committee for a second time yesterday following concerns raised about the extent of the ban. ... Margaret Woolley, senior enforcement officer at the borough council, said: “It is important to note that an (alcohol designation) order does not ban alcohol or drinking on the canal areas. It is merely a tool. If people are drinking responsibly and not causing a nuisance it will not affect them....


Tuesday 6 March

Transfer of BW into Canal & River Trust set for early May, as it moves into final parliamentary phase

The draft order for moving British Waterways into the new Canal & River Trust went before Parliament on 29th February. It will be scrutinised by both Houses before it can be approved, under the simplified approval process made possible by the Public Bodies Act 2011. The order is officially titled The British Waterways Board (Transfer of Functions) Order 2012.  
 
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 brief two-page order is followed by lengthier schedules amending existing Parliamentary acts so that references to BW are changed to CRT for England and Wales, while BW continues to be the public body for the Scottish waterways.
 
The draft order to abolish the Inland Waterways Advisory Council (IWAC) has also been laid before Parliament. It includes one amendment to the British Waterways Act 1995, in respect of the make-up of the boat safety Standards Appeal Panel. 

Andrew Denny  | 2.55pm | add a comment


Today's news from the web

  • Oxford council acts on illegal boaters oxfordmail.co.uk

    A new crackdown has been launched against boaters illegally mooring in Oxford. Members of the city’s boating community last night said the new strict regime was unnecessary and would force boaters out of Oxford. The crackdown was launched after Oxford City Council paid £44,000 towards work by the Unlawfully Moored Boats Enforcement Group (Umbeg), which also includes representatives from British Waterways, the Environment Agency, Thames Valley Police and other landowners....

  • Cherwell District Council and South Northamptonshire Councils plan Canal conservation areas cherwell.gov.uk

    The special character along a stretch of the Oxford Canal could soon be protected by conservation area status. Cherwell District Council and South Northamptonshire Council have appointed consultants CgMs to appraise the canal corridor. The aim of this piece of work is to identify the special character of the canal's entire length through both districts with a view to ensuring it is protected....

  • London Book Barge: A bookshop to float your boat telegraph.co.uk

    “It’s because it’s the canal. Put a few moorhens around and people start remembering that they’re human beings,” says Paddy Screech, the co-owner of Word on the Water, the London Book Barge. The capital’s only floating second-hand bookshop – which has been open for nine months, travelling between Camden Lock, Angel, Hackney and Paddington – stops for two weeks at each mooring to sell books donated by the public and by charity bookshops. It is owned by Paddy, “The Doctor”, and his co-partners, John Privett, “The Professor”, and a mysterious Frenchman called “The Captain”. The French Captain owns the boat, Paddy the Doctor keeps the business running at front of shop, including the necessary wood-chopping for the stove, and John the Professor, who runs a stall in Archway Market called Word on the Street, knows the book trade. ...

  • Youth theatre group to launch canal-inspired musical derbyshiretimes.co.uk

    Major developments along the Chesterfield canal are the inspiration for a new play by the town theatre’s youth group. Ambitious plans to create a marina in Staveley and transform a stretch of the canal in Chesterfield into a leisure and retail complex have triggered a work of artistic craftsmanship. The play Cuckoo - which the Pomegranate Youth Theatre group will launch this month - has been a year-long project involving extensive investigation into the history of the canal....

  • Help manage fruit trees on the River Severn and Gloucester & Sharpness Canal waterscape.com

    British Waterways is looking for people who can dedicate some of their time to helping them care for fruit trees alongside the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal and on River Severn lock islands, from Stourport to Sharpness. Danielle Jackson, from British Waterways’ environment team, says: “This region is renowned for its variety of fruit trees and traditional orchards. We all know that the canal and river are symbols of our industrial past but they are also important keepers of our natural heritage too.” There are two training sessions taking place, on 22nd March and 12th May, for interested volunteers....

  • Arsonist jailed for Newport Fourteen Locks blaze southwalesargus.co.uk

    A man who set fire to Newport’s Fourteen Locks Canal Centre just because he wanted to burn something was locked up for two years yesterday. Benjamin Jones, 20, of no fixed adress, pleaded guilty to arson after setting fire to the centre in the early hours of November 12 last year, causing more than £66,000 worth of damage....


Monday 5 March

Today's news from the web

  • Environment Agency cottage plan prompts safety fears bbc.co.uk

    The Environment Agency - under pressure to rely less on taxpayers' cash - wants tenants to pay up to £1,200 a month for the privilege of occupying a cottage. By saving the £32,000 cost of a keeper at each lock and by generating an average of £14,000 of income, the agency hopes to raise about £230,000 a year from renting out five properties. But the Thames Users Group (Tug) claims the plan could jeopardise safety on the river. Michael Shefras, from Tug, said: "Lock keepers do more than just let people in boats go in and out of locks. "If we have floods, like we've had in previous years, the lock keepers can save the situation....

  • RYA and BMF say HMRC have backed down over latest red diesel announcement rya.org.uk

    Rya and BMF representatives have been extremely critical of a recent ministerial announcement that it proposed to make the use of red diesel in UK boats unlawful beyond UK territorial waters. The issue would not affect the current situation on canals and rivers, but might have unwittingly criminalised leisure boaters who went into international waters with red diesel in their tanks. It related to a new declaration proposed by a minister, which would require boaters to make when buying red diesel in the UK. The RYA and the BMF sought to clarify the Government’s intentions and to propose alternative wording that simply reminds recreational boaters that other coastal states may apply their own legislation to vessels navigating in their territorial waters. RYA representative Gus Lewis said HMRC has now confirmed that the Government has no intention to make it unlawful for red diesel bought in the UK to be used in international waters. He said: “The proposed revised wording for the declaration was unacceptable and we are pleased that HMRC has recognised our serious concerns. We have proposed to HMRC alternative wording that we believe would avoid boaters having to acknowledge falsely that they are aware of restrictions on fuel usage that do not exist.” Howard Pridding of the British Marine Fedaration said: “We expect the proposed revised wording for the declaration to be confirmed in the Budget Statement being made on the 21 March 2012 and the subsequent Finance Act.”...

  • Former QE2 captain takes boatmaster test to skipper the Seagull Trust's boat on the Union Canal express.co.uk

    When Nick Bates gets his ticket to skipper a canal barge, as he surely will, his mind may flash back to the day he first took the QE2 out of Southampton as captain. There can’t be many mariners out there with a CV as impressive as his, but it cuts no ice with Health & Safety, and, at the end of this month, former captain Bates will sit his “driving” test on a vessel no bigger than the lifeboats on the world’s most elegant liner. ...


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