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Thursday 10 January

CRT introduces National Users Forum

The Canal & River Trust has formally announced a new National Users’ Forum, which will replace the old British Waterways Advisory Forum (BWAF).  

As with the old BWAF, the new Forum is intended to keep the principal users of the waterways up to date with strategic developments and give an extra way for national bodies to reply on issues of national importance to their members.

The group will meet twice a year, with the inaugural meeting scheduled for 21st February 2013 at CRT’s West Midlands HQ at Peel’s Wharf, Fazeley, and the second meeting in September at a location to be announced.

Roger Hanbury, head of governance services at the Canal & River Trust, said the Forum would be open to groups with recognised national membership and invited such groups to nominate a representative to attend.

“The Forum will be another important conduit for the organisations who use and have a love for the waterways to feedback the thoughts and advice of their members,” said Roger Hanbury. The first meeting would require making arrangements for chairing proceedings, together with agreeing the Forum’s terms of reference, which could potentially differ from those of the BWAF.

“If a waterways group would like to attend and hasn’t yet nominated a representative, please get in touch with me at roger.hanbury@canalrivertrust.org.uk” he said.

Andrew Denny  | 4.52pm | add a comment

Wednesday 9 January

CRT chief Robin Evans to resign

The Canal & River Trust announced today that Robin Evans will resign as chief executive in May 2013, ten years after he became head of its predecessor, British Waterways.

Robin Evans revealed that he had made the decision last November, “to pursue other interests and opportunities”, after overseeing BW’s transition to a charitable trust, and felt it was the right time for a new leader.

He said: “It has been a privilege to lead these two great organisations and I am very proud of what we have achieved over the past ten years. Having agreed the transfer of the waterways into the Third Sector together with £500m of endowment property and a 15-year funding agreement from government, the Trust is on a more secure financial footing with a more positive outlook than we’ve probably ever had.

Robin Evans said he left the Trust with “the foundations for a strong and vibrant future for our much-loved waterways.”

Tony Hales, chair of the Canal & River Trust, said: “We will be very sorry to lose him. He has served with great dedication and inspirational vision. His determination to see that vision realised in the foundation of the Trust, has transformed the long term prospects for the waterways. The former Board of British Waterways and the current Trustees wish him well and thank him for his outstanding contribution to the canals and rivers we all love.”

No replacement has yet been announced, but the trustees of the Canal & River Trust will begin the selection process shortly. CRT chairman Tony Hales, who had himself planned to retire in April, will delay his departure to help ensure a smooth transition.

Les Etheridge, national chairman of the Inland Waterways Association, also praised Robin Evans’ tenure. “It will, in time, be seen to be both visionary and unprecedented,” he predicted.

“He has steered the former British Waterways, through some of the most severe and testing economic times, and has managed a successful transfer to the third sector with the formation of Canal & River Trust, complete with a dowry of a 15-year stable funding settlement from government.”

“The fact that the Trust exists today is testament to his vision, strength and determination.”

Les Etheridge warned that the role would be very hard to fill. As well as the ability to manage the Trust, a new chief executive would now need to drive a “culture change” for the organisation.

*Edited 4.30pm to include comment from IWA chairman Les Etheridge.

Andrew Denny  | 9.49am | 1 comment

Today's news from the web

  • My Boat Roofed Shed tinyhouseblog.com

    The shed roof is made from a clinker built boat that is 14ft long and 7ft wide at its widest point. The boat is an inshore fishing boat made between 1900 – 1910. It was placed on a frame of 4 telegraph poles with cross beams. Once in place the walls were filled in using aluminium windows from a 1940′s caravan and single glazed windows from our 400 year old farm house....

  • Skipper wedges £500,000 pleasure cruiser under Chertsey Bridge on Thames dailymail.co.uk

    The skipper of a £500,000 luxury cruiser was left red-faced after it became stuck underneath a bridge on the River Thames. The 40ft long boat was too high to pass through Chertsey Bridge in Surrey and became wedged under the archway. It is understood the skipper had misjudged how much the river level has risen because of the recent wet weather and underestimated the clearance needed to get through. ...

  • Could the QE2 be setting sail for the Thames? dailymail.co.uk

    An ambitious multi-million pound scheme has emerged to save the much-loved Queen Elizabeth 2 by permanently moving it to London and opening it as a plush hotel on the River Thames. The vessel is currently based in Dubai and its owners are said to be in talks with China about stripping it for scrap metal. But it is hoped that this can be prevented by moving the ship to London and transforming it into a luxury hotel. She would be stationed at Carlsberg Wharf - opposite the O2 Arena, and near the Emirates Cable Car, Excel Conference Centre, and Canary Wharf....

  • New-look entrance unveiled for Black Country Museum, Dudley Canal Trust & Dudley Zoo expressandstar.com

    A £10.1million masterplan to link Dudley’s biggest tourist attractions and create a new 600-space car park has been unveiled. The redevelopment project in Castle Hill will create a single point of access for Dudley Zoo, the Black Country Living Museum and Dudley Canal Trust. Detailed plans for the latest phase of work aimed at boosting visiting numbers and bringing in millions of pounds in extra revenue have been submitted and regeneration bosses today released the first images showing how a new visitor entrance at Dudley Zoo will look if the proposals are approved....

  • Mississippi - the 'great liquid superhighway' - blocked by drought blogs.telegraph.co.uk

    It is still Ol' Man River, but it's hardly ”rollin' along” any more – and the US and the world may be about to suffer as a result. For in the wake of record drought the Mississippi River – which transports more than seven billion dollars worth of commodities in a normal December and January – is drying up. ... People who know the river are saying that they have never seen it so low. ...

  • A boating holiday on the Norfolk Broads mirror.co.uk

    As we pulled into Wroxham, we were swallowed into old-world England with its charming thatched cottages and – would you believe it – people actually smiling and saying “good afternoon”? ... Clear of Wroxham, with its manicured lawns, we were back to a different era. There was the sign in a pub window declaring they closed between 3-5pm, which made me realise I was definitely holidaying in the past. That is what makes the experience so special. Not for ages had our family enjoyed such a peaceful time where everyone is so friendly – whether it be other boats that pass with the crews waving enthusiastically, or the pubs and restaurants whose staff look genuinely pleased to see you and who are also accommodating to our junior first mates. On our one-week trip we stayed mainly on the rivers Bure and Ant, which took in Barton Broad and the villages of Sutton and Stalham....

Tuesday 8 January

Dudley Tunnel £3.3m visitor centre gets go-ahead

Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council has granted planning permission to the Dudley Canal Trust to build The Portal Project, a £3.3million education, exhibition and heritage centre at the northern entrance to the 200-year-old canal tunnel and limestone mines.

The two-storey building will highlight the Black Country’s canal based industrial heritage and will be the most up to date canal and industrial heritage centre in the UK.

Two years ago the Trust received £118,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to plan the project. The Heritage Lottery Fund is now considering an application for funding the first phase, while the second phase is also under preparation for consideration by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The first phase will cost about £2.15million, with the completed project estimated at £3.3million.

The first phase will be a two-level building with the top floor having direct access from the boat trips car park close to the tunnel’s northern Todds End portal, off the Birmingham New Road. A passenger lift would provide direct access from the lower floor to the towpath and passenger embarkation wharf. A swing bridge would also be installed to enable visitors from the Black Country Living Museum on the opposite side of the canal to access the ticket office, trip boats and heritage and learning centre.

The second phase would include an additional exhibition and lecture area adjoining the trip boat embarkation wharf.

At present access is via a sloping footpath from the car park and a narrow pedestrian bridge over the tunnel’s portal to reach the ticket office and boats adjoining the Black Country Living Museum.

The project has been warmly welcomed by Peter Mathews, chairman of the Canal & River Trust’s West Midlands Waterways Partnership, who said: “This project will provide the nation’s inland waterways network with the finest state-of-the-art industrial waterway heritage centre. [It] will be absolutely essential in promoting the area’s unique industrial heritage.”
Project Manager David Trevis Smith said he hoped funding would be secured around April or May. Once that was in place , the building’s design would be finalised and tenders would be invited. Construction could begin in autumn this year with completion in 2014

The Trust is inviting supporters to make donations to the scheme and also to find out more about the project by visiting www.dudleycanaltrust.org.uk

The canal tunnel and limestone mines form part of a Scheduled Ancient Monument with English Heritage describing them as “the best surviving remains of limestone quarrying, mining and processing industry in Dudley.” At the height of the Industrial Revolution, up to 20,000 tonnes of limestone per year were removed by boats for use as flux in local blast furnaces.

Andrew Denny  | 11.26am | add a comment

Today's news from the web

  • Thieves steal rescue boat stolen in Oxfordshire floods bbc.co.uk

    A dinghy used to rescue people from cars and narrow boats during recent floods in Oxfordshire has been stolen. Narrow boat owner Paul Otter used his blue and orange fibreglass rowing boat as the only safe way of accessing 17 moored boats at Long Wittenham. He said the theft of the 10ft boat, worth only about £20, was "thoughtless and selfish"....

Tuesday 18 December

Today's news from the web

  • Narrowboat owner left high and dry in Tewkesbury after floods thisisgloucestershire.co.uk

    Boat owner Philip Morris is wondering whether he should ever have come to Tewkesbury after suffering his third misfortune there in six months. First he had to be rescued from his narrowboat after being taken ill and then, while he was away from his boat recuperating, it was broken into. After those two incidents in July, last month's floods have now left his narrowboat high and dry. As the level of the River Avon rose rapidly, it lifted the boat up and, when the floods receded, dumped it back down on a concrete area next to Healing's Mill....

Monday 17 December

Today's news from the web

  • Information gathering event about Grand Western Canal devonnewscentre.info

    Communities along the Grand Western Canal are being invited to a fact-finding meeting to establish events that led to the breach of the canal last month. Following the flood drop-in sessions which are currently being held across the county to gather information on the November floods, Devon County Council is organising a similar event to focus on the Grand Western Canal. The session will be held at Halberton Village Hall on Thursday (20 December) from 4pm until 8pm....

  • Grand Western Canal to be re-stocked following fish losses thisisexeter.co.uk

    The Environment Agency is to re-stock part of the Tiverton Canal following fish losses caused by a spectacular bank collapse. Thousands of fish including pike, perch, bream, tench, roach and eels were washed out of the canal after a section of bank near Halberton gave way following torrential rain. Water from a two mile section of the canal flooded surrounding fields creating a temporary lake. A team of Environment Agency officers assisted by members of the Tiverton Angling Club launched a rescue operation and successfully returned more than 400 fish to the canal....

  • A glimpse of the Arctic in Brindley Place blogs.birminghampost.net

    Walking by the canal in Brindley Place recently I passed a stately flotilla of Canada geese. Nothing remarkable about that you may think, and yet it in some ways it is wholly remarkable that these birds thrive in the heart of the nation's second largest city. There are, after all, few things more evocative of the world's lonely places than the honking of a skein of geese silhouetted against a winter sunset. Yet here are some amongst the shoppers and concert-goers. ...

Thursday 13 December

Today's news from the web

  • Victory for couple threatened with a £26k narrowboat loan bill thisismoney.co.uk

    When a young couple purchased a narrowboat in an attempt to beat the soaring expense of getting on the property ladder for the first time, they believed they had snapped up a real bargain. They borrowed £30,000 to buy the £23,000 boat in May 2012 and spent £8,000 on repairs as a labour of love after a surveyor described it as ‘uninhabitable’. However, just three months later, they were hit with shocking news. Clydesdale Bank contacted them to reveal that it had granted a loan to the previous owner, who had sold it with more than £26,000 still owed. The bank still held the boat's deeds and told its new owners Anna Boehm and Chris Milner they were liable for the debt. ...

Tuesday 11 December

Today's news from the web

  • Voles one, Velos nil - Oxford towpath plans thwarted road.cc

    The presence of water voles by a towpath on the Oxford Canal has dealt an apparently terminal blow to a £200,000 plan to improve the surface of a towpath on the Oxford Canal. Sustrans had announced plans to upgrade the surface of the towpath in North Oxofrd earlier this year, but now says that the discovery of rare water voles in the verge alongside the canal will make it impossible for the shared use path to adhere to the minimum width of 2 metres, falling 20cm short....

Monday 10 December

Today's news from the web

  • Police divers search canal for missing Chesterfield Canal boatsman worksopguardian.co.uk

    Divers are scouring the depths of Shireoaks Marina and Chesterfield Canal in search of a missing man. Steven Johnson, 61, was last seen at around 7.30pm last Tuesday, 4th December, when he returned to his houseboat after having dinner with a neighbour at the marina. Police are making enquiries with residents in the vicinity and searching the surrounding area....

  • Boys charged over Wolverhampton canal attacks bbc.co.uk

    Two teenage boys have been charged in connection to a series of attacks in which victims were pushed into the canal in the Wolverhampton area. A total of six people, including two men in their 70s, are thought to have been shoved into the water. During the attacks earlier this year the victims suffered injuries ranging from cracked ribs to a shattered kneecap. The boys are due to appear at Wolverhampton Youth Court on 3 January....

Tuesday 4 December

Today's news from the web

  • New 200-berth marina planned near Oxford oxfordmail.co.uk

    Plans to build a multi-million pound marina on Green Belt land next to the Oxford Canal have been put forward. Farmer Merlin Smith wants to build and operate the 206-berth inland waterways marina, boat workshop and boater facilities on 12 hectares of agricultural land off Woodstock Road, Yarnton. He also wants to create a new access road, car parking and footpaths which would give pedestrians and cyclists a direct route along the canal towpath into Oxford city centre....

Thursday 22 November

Today's news from the web

  • Shocking images show moment floods burst Grand Western Canal bank thesun.co.uk

    Families were forced to flee a torrent of water gushing towards their homes after the banks of a canal dramatically collapsed. Engineers are desperately working to try to dam the flow after a breach of the Great Western Canal in Devon sent millions of gallons racing down a hillside. Video footage shows the 200-year-old clay bank falling away in huge chunks following heavy rain which has caused flash floods and chaos on the roads across Britain....

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