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Saturday 12 November

Today's news from the web

  • River Avon at Bath closed over Victoria Bridge concerns bbc.co.uk

    Boats have been stopped from using a section of river in Bath because of fears over an unsafe suspension bridge. Victoria Bridge, over the River Avon, was closed last year because of safety concerns but now river craft are being told to avoid the water underneath. The stretch between the Weston lock and the Bath flight of locks has been closed until further notice is given....

Friday 11 November

Sneak peek of new Canal & River Trust website

Waterscape has unveiled an early version of its likely successor, the new Canal and River Trust  website. In a post headed 'Take a peek at the new website', Waterscape's editor says: 

"We're now at a crucial stage of development and we need to make sure you can navigate around the pages to find the information you need. So once again we’re asking for your help to make sure we’re on the right track.

"We've set up an online test where you'll get to see what our homepage, a canal page and a news page will potentially look like. You'll be asked a number of questions and asked to respond by clicking on the relevant part of the page. At the end of the test you'll get the opportunity to leave more detailed feedback on the designs. It should only take about ten minutes.

"To take part in the testing visit http://participate.usabilla.com/2295316004eb02056c3dd0. Please forward the link to your friends and family as we want to hear as many views as possible."

In other words, the site isn't actually 'live'; it's merely a series of mocked-up pages that you are invited to click on, so that the website developers can get an idea of how easy it is to navigate the website.  

First impressions here at Waterways World are very positive. WW editor Richard Fairhurst's instant response (on Twitter) was "Oh, wow. New C&RT site design by @torchbox is exactly what we were striving for at Waterscape 8 years ago. Delighted." 

[Richard was himself Waterscape's editor before taking charge at WW in 2005]  

The screenshot below gave me the impression of a wildlife charity, but that seems to be just a random page in the middle of the website. More encouragingly, there's a line of links at the top headed 'For boaters', suggesting that navigation will be at the heart of the website.

The website's developer, Torchbox, seems to specialise in non-profit organisations. Another such 'trust-style' charity it has worked for is The Landmark Trust, and you'll perhaps notice the 'family' resemblance.

Andrew Denny  | 3.50pm

Today's news from the web

  • National Waterways Museum's local MP pleads for Commons debate on Waterways Funding theyworkforyou.com

    Andrew Miller, the MP for Ellesmere Port, whose constituency includes the National Waterways Museum, has said that Parliament should have a debate on the funding for the waterways before the Environment Minister decides on the new Canal & River Trust's grant level. 

    In a parliamentary question on 10th November he said "Some good progress has been made towards the changing structure of British Waterways and our fantastic canal network. However, discussions are ongoing on the transitional funds for the new trust. Can we be assured that there will be a debate in the House to deal with those important questions before any irrevocable decisions are taken?" 
    The Leader of the House replied: "I will...seek to get [Defra's] assurance he wants about the assets that are about to be transferred."

Thursday 10 November

Wilts & Berks Canal Trust launches Supporters Club

The Wilts & Berks Canal Trust has launched a new fundraising club. Called the Supporters 200 Club, it hopes to sell at least 200 tickets at 20 a time to raise up to  2,000 a year for the Trust, and to pay out 2,000 in up to nine draws from March to December each year. 

Tickets will be sold on an annual basis and would have to be purchased by 14th February for inclusion in the draw for that year.

There will be nine monthly draws of 100, 50 and 25, and a bonus Christmas draw of 250, 100 and 50. The money raised will be awarded for specific projects for the Trust.

Andrew Denny  | 5.28pm

Today's news from the web

  • Brierley Hill waterways festival saved dudleynews.co.uk

    Brierley Hills Festival of Water and Light has been saved after an events company agreed to buy the running rights for 1. The popular boating festival on the Dudley Canal, held annually in October, was dropped this year due to funding problems. But Dudley Council has secured a 1 deal with Staffordshire based global events company CCEM which has agreed to take over responsibility for the waterways spectacular held at The Waterfront....

  • Safety concerns could torpedo 60m Thames floating park thisislondon.co.uk

    A floating 60 million park due to open on the Thames in time for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics next summer could sink without trace amid safety fears. The City of London Corporation was due to consider plans for the London River Park - backed by Mayor Boris Johnson - next week but the discussion has been delayed until next month after the Port of London Authority said the project could threaten the "navigational safety" of the Thames. Organisers of a 3,000-boat jubilee river pageant in June, meanwhile, believe the park would force them to trim the number of vessels by a third....

  • Row brews over safety of L&L canal bridge in Halsall southportvisiter.co.uk

    A local resident at Halsall on the western end of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal has complained that a canal bridge has been in a dangerous state and British Waterways has not said when it will fix it. Joe Farley said the 200-year-old bridge wall on the right hand side of the bridge on North Moor Lane was damaged more than a year ago. He has contacted British Waterways several times and an engineer has been out to the site. The road remains open and some barriers have been put up to protect the wall, but the damage remains. ...A British Waterways spokesman said an engineer had inspected the bridge and was certain the damage was caused by a vehicle hitting it. He added: “Bridge strikes like this are an issue all over the canal network. We do not have the money to fix them all due to government finding cuts. The stonework isn’t over a footpath or water so it is unlikely to fall on anyone.”...

  • Burton canalside boozing ban bid after complaints burtonmail.co.uk

    Several miles of canal towpath could be made an alcohol-free zone in an effort to curb anti-social behaviour and binge drinking. Youths have been congregating along the side of the Trent and Mersey Canal for several months, Horninglow and Eton Parish Council was told. There has been a rise in petty crime and residents have been intimidated by yobs, it was claimed. The stretch of land in question runs along the banks of the Trent and Mersey Canal from Princess Way, Stretton, to the Shobnall Leisure Complex. The council meeting heard that the problem was particularly concentrated in the Horninglow Basin area, on the banks of the canal....

Wednesday 9 November

Today's news from the web

  • Oxford's rail swing bridge to be renovated bbc.co.uk

    The dilapidated Rewley Road rail swing bridge in Oxford is finally to be renovated through a £90,000 grant from the Wren heritage fund. The listed structure was built in 1850 as part of the London and North Western Railway. The hand-operated swing bridge was used to take trains across the Sheepwash Channel, which links the River Thames and the Oxford Canal. It fell out of use in 1944 and is currently on the English Heritage "At Risk" Register. ...

  • Plas Kynaston canal supporters urged to attend public meeting leaderlive.co.uk

    Supporters of the proposed canal marina restoration and Plas Kynaston Canal in Cefn Mawr are being urged to attend a special meeting. A public hearing for Wrexham Council’s local development plan (LDP) is scheduled to start on January 25 and campaign organiser David Metcalfe is urging local people to show their support for the canal project. The proposal to reinstate the Plas Kynaston Canal with a 60 berth marina on the site of the former Flexsys factory behind the Queen’s Hotel in Cefn Mawr is one of the items that will be under consideration....

  • Aqueduct in Nantwich could benefit from key maintenance work crewechronicle.co.uk

    Plans to spruce up a main gateway into Nantwich are afoot. Discussions have taken place for several years regarding the canal aqueduct at the top of Welsh Row and the need to carry out maintenance and cosmetic works. In the past British Waterways, which is responsible for the upkeep of the bridge, has told the town council the work could cost up to £400,000. But the body, now with charitable status, has returned to town leaders with scaled down costs and to open discussions over the improvements. ...

Tuesday 8 November

Waterways minister corrects previous statement about Freedom of Information

Waterways minister Richard Benyon has tried to quash speculation that the new Canal & River Trust would have to comply with the government Freedom of Information Act.  His original statement to Parliament on 13th October was widely taken to mean that the  Act would apply to the new charity. 

At the time he said: "The provisions that currently exist for British Waterways will follow through to the new charity."

However, following a flurry of public speculation, he was driven to issue a correction on 27th October, adding "The Government have not yet taken up a position on the matter." 

A final decision on the details of the new charity (including if it will be subject to the FoI Act) is expected at the end of November or in early December. 

Andrew Denny  | 4.47pm

EA private boat licences rise by 6.4%

Private boat licences on Environment Agency waters are increasing by 6.4% from January 2012. The rise represents a 2% increase over consumer inflation levels, and is planned to be the first of three such annual rises until 2014. The EA says it will look at the impact of this first rise before deciding whether to continue this strategy. 

However, commercial boat operators will breathe more easily, as the EA says their licences are being frozen until 2015. 
In addition, licences will now be available on a ‘rolling’ basis, renewable from any month (instead of always running from January to December), and refunds for unused portions of licences will be available in certain circumstances.  

The three-year programme of rises reflects the government’s recent announcement that EA navigations may be merged into the new Canal and River Trust in 2015 if the launch of the Trust proceeds smoothly. 

“In an ideal world there would be no increase in our charges”, said the agency’s waterways manager, Angela Quayle. “But unfortunately the reality is that we need to deal with the increasing pressures of reduced public funding and inflation that we are faced with to help secure the future of our waterways. Our navigations face an uncertain future without such difficult actions and could quickly become unreliable and then unsafe to navigate if we fail to act.” 

Andrew Denny  | 4.06pm

Today's news from the web

  • 'Good Thames boaters caught on camera' says PLA server2.pla.co.uk

    The PLA has commissioned three films which follow boaters as they tackle the Thames safely. One, covering Southend to Crayfordness, highlights the protocols and regulations around navigating in the estuary and in close vicinity to large ocean-going ships. A second deals with getting through the Thames Barrier. And a third will show how to follow the rowing code between Putney and Richmond....

  • Hopes of holding Shrewsbury river festival every year shropshirestar.com

    While a 1,000-strong flotilla is travelling down the River Thames to mark the occasion on June 3 next year, Shrewsbury is planning to hold its own river festival to celebrate 60 years of the Queen’s reign. Shrewsbury and Shropshire Waterways and Leisure Group wants to get a fleet of boats to sail down the river as part of the festival. And Edward Goddard, chairman of Destination Shrewsbury which promotes the town, said he hoped it could take place every year. ...

  • Wey & Arun extension plans on public display bbc.co.uk

    Residents are being invited to comment on a project to open up a mile-long section of canal on the Surrey and Sussex border for boat trips. The Wey and Arun Canal Trust is holding a public exhibition in Dunsfold to ask for people's views before a formal planning permission is sought. The trust said Waverley Borough Council had been supportive during preliminary planning discussions. Work includes restoring the canal from Compasses Bridge to Tickner's Heath....

  • Monster alert on River Lea? express.co.uk

    A mystery creature that eats geese in the blink of an eye has returned to haunt murky waters around the £9billion Olympic Park. Six years ago there were fears a crocodile was stalking big birds as they were sucked from a river’s surface – never to be seen again. Some experts then suggested a giant turtle was the culprit, but before the riddle could be solved the killer monster apparently vanished. Now it seems to be back... ...

  • Thames Tunnel project launches consultation thamestunnelconsultation.co.uk

    A 14-week consultation starts today on Thames Water’s revised plans for the proposed Thames Tunnel, needed to help tackle the 39 million tonnes of untreated sewage that overflows annually into the River Thames from London’s Victorian sewerage network. Full details are available at www.thamestunnelconsultation.co.uk ...

  • Floating bookshop returns to Staffordshire after UK canal tour staffslive.co.uk

    A businesswoman has returned home and reopened her floating shop in Staffordshire after cruising the UK’s canal network for six months selling books. Sarah Henshaw, 28, travelled more than 1,000 miles in a converted narrowboat along the various canals of England and Wales on her Book Barge to promote independent bookshops. ... She said: “I would love to do it again. I have my eye on a Paris move next but there is small matter of the Channel to overcome first.” ...

  • Daniel Craig...and the Crinan Canal: 007 heads for Argyll entertainment.caledonianmercury.com

    Scotland is to once again set to host a maelstrom of Hollywood action, with another film crew and movie entourage set to commandeer the “wilds of Scotland” as a backdrop. Much of the filming will take place at Whitehall, as well as at Pinewood Studios, but Scotland, Shanghai and Istanbul will also have their role to play. Rumours abound as to the exact location for the Scottish part of the filming, but Duntrune Castle near the west end of the Crinan Canal is a favourite....

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