Ombudsmans' Annual Report

Published: Thursday, 31 August 2017

The Waterways Ombudsman and the Waterways Ombudsman Committee have today, Thursday, issued their Annual Reports for 2016/17.

The Ombudsman’s Report shows that the number of complaints entering the Canal & River Trust’s complaint process rose slightly, from 222 during the previous year, to 234.

Virtually unchanged

During the year the Ombudsman received 39 enquiries about the Trust. Although there were 47 enquiries in the previous year, seven were about one situation, so the number of distinct sources of complaint is virtually unchanged. Fourteen new investigations were opened, which was one fewer than the previous year, and the number of completed investigations was unchanged at 17.

Of the 17 investigations completed, two were partly upheld and although two others were not upheld a goodwill award was made for customer service shortfalls.  Two of them were not about boating issues, but were about fishing rights. As before, the complaints covered a very broad range of topics, but there were some common themes, including continuous cruising guidance and the impact of boaters mooring near residential properties.

Views on process rather than outcome

In the first full year of a new customer survey process there has been a good response from complainants, with very positive feedback about the Ombudsman’s investigation process. Complainants are asked to complete a survey before a report into their complaint is issued to gauge their view of the process rather than the outcome.

The Waterways Ombudsman Scheme has again been granted unconditional approval by its Competent Authority, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, in line with the requirements set out in the ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) Regulations. The Scheme has also been validated as a full Ombudsman member of the Ombudsman Association (the professional association for ombudsmen and complaint handlers, their staff and others interested in the work of independent complaint resolution).

Deals with complaints about Canal & River Trust

The Waterways Ombudsman scheme deals with complaints about the Canal & River Trust which are referred to the Ombudsman after completion of the Trust’s own complaints process. The Waterways Ombudsman Committee oversees the work of the scheme and remains satisfied with the operation and funding of the scheme.

The annual report of the Waterways Ombudsman Committee and the Waterways Ombudsman for 2016-17 is now available online at: