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Tuesday 20 March

Today's news from the web

  • Fines send a warning to Cam boat owners cambridge-news.co.uk

    Four boat owners have been taken to court after failing to register their vessels on the River Cam. Fines of £100 were imposed by Cambridge magistrates on three of the owners, and all four had to pay compensation ranging from more than £270 to nearly £700. [Cam Conservators] River Manager Philippa Noon said: “These convictions send out a clear message that boat owners must register promptly and ensure that their vessels comply with our safety standards....

Monday 19 March

New Selly Oak plans guarantee place for Lapal canal link

A redesign was unveiled on 17th March of the massive Sainsbury’s-centred retail development that had threatened to block the Lapal Canal restoration at its junction with the Worcester & Birmingham canal at Selly Oak.  

The new plans include a commitment to recreate the first furlong of the old Lapal Canal through the 32-acre development, along with an extended waterfront area around the junction, a footbridge over the canal, and a properly constructed winding hole. 

This new Lapal Link section should stretch for around 330 yards, crossing Harborne Lane and taking the canal through to Selly Oak Park, where restoration can continue later. 

The development will include “a new vibrant ‘waterfront square” designed to attract visitors to a variety of bars, cafés and restaurants and two new hotels by the canal. 

The unveiled artist’s impressions convey the look of a smaller version of Birmingham’s Brindleyplace.  

The plans have now been submitted to Birmingham City Council. Should planning approval be granted, work could start on cleaning up the currently derelict site as early as next year, with construction commencing in 2014. 

Andrew Denny  | 5.03pm | add a comment

Progress towards plans for a re-watered length of the Buckingham Canal

Another significant stretch of the Buckingham Canal is close to being put back into water says the Buckingham Canal Society. 

Around 550 yards of the canal at Bourton Meadow will be restored to navigable status as a demonstration to the local community of the benefits the restoration will bring in terms of environment, leisure, green infrastructure and flood mitigation.

Volunteers have repaired a spill-weir, cleared the bed and kept it strimmed.  An ecological habitat survey has been carried out which highlights significant possibilities for habitat enhancement including using planted coir rolls for soft edging and developing existing hedgerows. The survey was funded by a £1,000 grant from Bedfordshire and Luton Community Foundation’s London Luton Airport Fund

The work is partly the fruit of a new partnership agreement with Aylesbury Vale District Council, while Bucks County Council recently awarded the society a further £2,000 from the Community Leaders’ Fund towards the restoration at Bourton Meadow.

The society is now preparing a planning application for the re-watering of the stretch, and says it would welcome advice and support from other canal societies who have experience of such applications.  

"As this is likely to be the first of many such applications we are determined to prepare a well-thought out application that puts the application into its long-term context", said Athina Beckett, chairman of the society. 

We want councillors to be fully informed about matters that are unfamiliar to them such as canal lining materials.  If other canal restoration organisations have experience of similar applications we would love to hear from them." 

The estimates to re-profile, line and landscape the section are expect to cost around £80,000. It is expected that a considerable part of this work will be undertaken by volunteers and grant applications are being prepared to meet the balance.

Andrew Denny  | 1.06pm | add a comment

Today's news from the web

  • The cat who came back... after SIX YEARS dailymail.co.uk

    Moggy Mac found living wild in buildings by canal after jumping off owners' narrowboat ...

  • Forth & Clyde canal lovers protest at litter louts kirkintilloch-herald.co.uk

    Fly-tippers and dozy dog walkers are ruining a popular walking route, it has been claimed. Cardboard boxes, dog dirt and other litter are scattered in areas in and around the tunnel under the canal including Auchendavie Road, Tintock Road and Kilsyth Road in Kirkintilloch....

Friday 16 March

BW announces early lock closure programme to conserve water supplies

As the drought grows, even before summer has begun, British Waterways has announced an early start to water conservation in the Midlands and South East region. 

Some parts of southern and central England experienced the driest year on record in 2011 and the Environment Agency recently confirmed official drought conditions in the South East. 

In January BW said they were spending an additional £700,000 investment on 24 schemes to improve water resources for the main boating season. While the majority of the network will not be significantly affected, selected lock gates will be padlocked overnight as a further measure to help conserve water throughout the summer. 

The restrictions, which will start on parts of the Grand Union and Oxford Canals at the end of March, will see boat movements controlled in some key locations with gates being locked at the end of each day to minimise wastage through vandalism or paddles being left open. Similar measures will be in place on the Kennet & Avon Canal as groundwater levels fall. These restrictions will be reviewed throughout the season and adjusted where appropriate and special openings will be considered at peak times such as Bank Holiday weekends. 

The restrictions have been planned following discussions with boating organisations, canal societies and waterway businesses. As a direct result of these discussions BW has produced special maps showing the restrictions and the varying potential drought risk across the network as a tool to help boaters to plan their journeys.

The navigational maps will be updated on a monthly basis and published with reservoir reports at www.waterscape.com/features-and-articles/features/british-waterways-reservoir-watch 

Andrew Denny  | 4.42pm | add a comment

Today's news from the web

Thursday 15 March

Up to 40 BW workboats seeking ‘good homes’

British Waterways is disposing of 40 redundant working boats from around the network. The boats include dredgers, tugs, weedcutters and general hoppers, many of them in poor condition – or even sunk – and most would require a considerable amount of work just to get floating or through a boat safety certificate.  It is possible some could end up as scrap.  

Three of the boats for sale are 20ft tugs in the ‘Bird’ class – Plover, Bittern and Heron.  All three of these tugs are fitted with Lister HR 2 engines and Blackstone gearboxes, and at least two of the tugs have boat safety certificates valid until 2013. 

A list of the boats and terms can be seen on Waterscape, at http://www.waterscape.com/features-and-articles/news/3300/sale-of-craft-to-societies-and-trusts 

Before any public auction takes place, BW wants to see if the boats might find a free ‘good home’ amongst waterways societies, restoration groups or museums. Expressions of interest should be emailed to Michael Carrington (mick.carrington@britishwaterways.co.uk) by April 6th 2012.

These are not craft for the dilettante. BW warns: “Any organisation will need to take over ownership of the vessel and should note that some of the craft are regarded as ‘life expired’ by BW for routine waterway maintenance works. Consequently, maintenance of these craft can run into several thousands of pounds each year.”

Andrew Denny  | 1.21pm | add a comment

Today's news from the web

  • Simon Barnes runs 197.5 miles from Thames Barrier to source for Sport Relief thisisgloucestershire.co.uk

    Celebrations broke out at the source of the River Thames when extreme runner Simon Barnes reached it after running for 57 hours from London. And Simon covered the 197.5 miles non-stop for Sport Relief. ​He took only 18 minutes for a power nap to combat dizziness, deafness and fatigue. Simon set off from the Thames Barrier last Friday at 7.48am and reached the source of the longest river in England near Coates at 4.58pm on Sunday....

  • Man arrested after Derbyshire canal boat stand-off bbc.co.uk

    A man who was wanted by police has been arrested after a 12-hour stand-off on a canal boat in Derbyshire. Armed officers and a police helicopter were deployed to an area of canal behind the Plough Inn in Town Street, Sandiacre, on Wednesday afternoon. [UPDATE from Derbyshire constabulary:] The incident at Sandiacre has been resolved. Just before 5.30am today a man who was wanted by police gave himself up after a stand-off with officers that lasted more than 12 hours. Yesterday afternoon the man was seen on a boat at the back of the Plough Inn on Town Street in Sandiacre. Armed officers attended and surrounded the boat. The police helicopter also attended. The man refused to leave the boat and specially trained negotiators were called to speak to him. The negotiations continued and as a result the 41-year-old man walked off the boat. He was arrested in connection with breach of a Violent Offender Order and on suspicion of burglary and theft. He will be questioned later in the day. No shots were fired and no-one was injured. No weapon was found on the boat. The police would like to thank the management of the Plough Inn for their co-operation during the incident and the public for their understanding if they were inconvenienced....

Wednesday 14 March

Three new trustees bring extra experience to CRT board

Three new trustees have been appointed to the board of the Canal & River Trust as it nears official approval. The new appointees, all volunteers, bring specialist knowledge in finance, asset management and property investment to the charity, which will immediately become the third largest owner of listed buildings in the UK and one of the top 20 charities by income.

The first, Marisa Cassoni, is currently the finance director of the John Lewis Partnership, as well as sitting on a number of committees and boards, including the philanthropic Peabody Trust.

Manish Chande is a senior partner of Mountgrange, the private commercial investor and developer, and was previously on the board of Land Securities plc. From 2003 until last year he was a Commissioner of English Heritage, and in 2007 because a trustee of the London Clinic.

Steve Shine OBE has been chief operating officer of Thames Water since 2007, but is about to leave ‘to take on new challenges’. He started his career as an electrician, working through the electrical industry to become MD of London Electricity Contracting and a board member of London Electricity (later EDF).

Tony Hales, chairman of the Canal & River Trust, said “The new trustees bring a huge amount of expertise and knowledge, particularly in areas which will be key to our future success.”

The new appointments need to be ratified at the first meeting of the Trust’s council on 28th March, for an initial three year term.   The roles are unpaid (except for expenses).

Andrew Denny  | 5.21pm | add a comment

Today's news from the web

  • Canal boating in Cheshire - Mirror Online mirror.co.uk

    Four miles an hour might not sound like the sort of speed to set the pulse racing, but when you are about to squeeze a 57ft narrowboat through a 7ft gap, it feels quite fast enough. From zero to scary in a matter of seconds. I can’t look. It’s as much as I can do not to shut my eyes, so convinced am I that our vessel’s lovely fresh paintwork is about to get a good scrape. ...

  • Radio Leeds Canal pedalo challenge begins bbc.co.uk

    Any hopes that Radio Leeds breakfast show presenters Adam Pope and Katherine Hannah may have had of easing into the challenge will have been dashed by a closer inspection of the schedule, at 16.5 miles (26.5km), day one is the longest single-day distance they will cover.... Adam Pope said: "This has been a real journey even before I set off. "I'm fitter and stronger - the rest is all in my head now. "Mentally, how tough am I to cope with what will be a massive challenge of endurance over the next 10 days?...

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

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