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Monday 19 March

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


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....


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