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Friday 18 November

Today's news from the web

  • Thames river conditions now on riverconditions.environment-agency.gov.uk

    Boaters looking to see if it's safe to venture out on the Thames should find the information  a little easier to find, now that news on any flood conditions or water levels has moved to the Environment Agency's website, on riverconditions.environment-agency.gov.uk .

    Previously embedded within a section of the general tourism site, www.visitthames.co.uk, it had been criticised for been hard to find without bookmarking. 

    The change comes as part of a larger project to refresh boating information on the EA website, as the agency looks at the likelihood of being merged into the new Canal & River Trust  in a few years time.

    The page provides current river flow information for each section of the river between Cricklade and Teddington. The Environment Agency updates this information regularly when warning boards are being displayed at locks and as river conditions change.  Boaters are often warned to check their insurance, as much insurance is invalidated if they ignore flood conditions and 'strong stream advice'. 


  • Ali G's home town votes for name change to restore its dignity dailymail.co.uk

    Residents in Staines have voted by a majority of 2-1 to include 'upon-Thames' in its title after being mocked for years as the home of Sacha Baron Cohen's shell-suited rapper. The controversial name change has been warmly welcomed by businessmen, who are convinced it will bring much-needed economic benefits to the ancient riverside town. The idea was the brainchild of solicitor Alex Tribick, chairman of the Spelthrone Business Forum....

  • Mikron Theatre on love, life and allotments examiner.co.uk

    Losing The Plot is something Mikron Theatre Company will never do. After all, the company marks its 40th anniversary next year, a remarkable achievement given that arts organisations are facing some of the toughest economic times in years. What has always driven this company’s success is its ability to deliver live theatre packed with music, humour and powerful storytelling. The company travels by narrowboat on the country’s waterways in summer and by van on the roads in the autumn. ...

  • London Cycling Campaign | Campaigns | Key campaigns | Awards 2011 | Best cycling facility lcc.org.uk

    The walking and cycling path from the River Thames, along the Lea Valley to Waltham Abbey, has long suffered from a nightmare obstacle at Bow Flyover. In the past, it was necessary to leave the path, cross four lanes of traffic, and return to the route on the other side of the roundabout. The new £2.3 million suspended path under the flyover is already well used by walkers and cyclists. ...

  • Restoring Rivers Could Help Cool Cities good.is

    Since losing their prominence as shipping corridors, the rivers runing through cities have not been a boon. They smell. They serve as sewage dumps. They overflow. They catch on fire. But rivers are staging a comeback. Cities are working to clean them up and build riverfront developments. At least one city is even planning on uncovering rivers that have been paved over....

Wednesday 16 November

Today's news from the web

  • British Waterways auctions off 1,163 items of small plant go-dove.com

    British Waterways has auctioned off 1,163 items of redundant small plant via online auction site GoIndustry Dovebid. The sale, ending at 1pm GMT today, included many items that canal volunteer groups might covet, such as water pumps, generators and power washers. Some canal figures have criticised the way it was done, with no public announcement to restoration societies or other such groups looking for quality second-hand equipment at low prices, and only two days of viewing before the sale began. One leading canal society figure told us: "Equipment like this is fundamental to our work, and we would like to have known it was coming up for auction. In fact, if they had donated it to us for free, our canal could have benefited more from our volunteer work than from the small amount the money will raise for their paid work." Others have speculated that, with the little publicity and short notice involved, there might have been a "behind the scenes" deal by some contractors to get much of this equipment at 'knock-down' prices. We have asked British Waterways for comment. ...

  • Work starts on Stort lock gate replacement at Harlow harlowstar.co.uk

    Work is now underway on replacing ageing lock gates on part of Harlows river network. The five-week, 80,000 project began on Friday when workmen from British Waterways lifted out the three-tonne steel gates at Burnt Mill Lock by crane. ...

Tuesday 15 November

Today's news from the web

  • Thames boaters battle to save lock keepers getreading.co.uk

    Boaters and river users have reacted angrily to plans to freeze the recruitment of residential lock keepers on the Thames amid fears over safety and flooding. The Environment Agency (EA) has put forward a raft of measures in an attempt to claw back just over half of an 800,000 shortfall in Government funding for 2011/12. The proposals, announced last month, also include replacing retiring residential lock keepers with relief lock keepers who do not live on site, and renting out the empty cottages....

  • Mon & Brec's Fourteen Locks Canal centre hit by arson southwalesargus.co.uk

    Staff at Fourteen Locks Canal Centre in Newport say they are devastated after a suspected arson attack on the building in the early hours of Saturday morning. The full extent of the damage is not yet known, but Gwent Police said there was smoke damage throughout the centre, as well as moderate damage to interior walls and roofing. A police spokesman confirmed the fire is being treated as suspicious, and CID is now investigating. The canal centre was closed to the public over the weekend, and its education manager, TomMaloney, said he was devastated that the building which has a caf, community meeting-rooms, and attracts visitors from all over the world had been targeted. He said: It is absolutely gutting. You just dont expect this. There are a lot of people who have done a lot of hard work to get this place running, and this is just mindless. We have 50,000 visitors a year, and a few individuals are ruining a facility that so many people enjoy. ... Fourteen Locks Canal Centre, which is run by the Monmouthshire, Brecon and Abergavenny Canal Trust, re-opened in 2008 following a 250,000 refurbishment. ...

Monday 14 November

Today's news from the web

  • New 300-berth marina planned for Northfleet on tidal Thames motorboatsmonthly.co.uk

    The Northfleet Harbour Restoration Trust has announced plans to develop the historic dock into a new 300-berth marina. The plans will including renovating an 18th century tidal mill, providing boaters with a much-needed marina with plenty of charm and character and a fair slice of history as well as being the only one if its type between London and Ramsgate....

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....

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