David: Good news

AT LAST the Liverpool Link is to be opened up to more or less unrestricted access, with the conversion of bridges 6 and 9 to boater operation and the provision of pontoons to allow the same at all the locks.

012Salthouse dockThis is a far cry from when we first used the link, soon after it opened, when the various restrictions meant that the inbound journey was spread across two days, with an overnight stop at Eldonian Village. Now the only restrictions are on bridge 9 (not in the rush hour) and the need to prebook a mooring in Salthouse dock.

It's still free for a week, despite Cart's lack of funds. The jobs that will be lost as a result are not full time Cart staff; when we did it the bridge/lock operators were temporary, taken on for the summer, plus some volunteers. The link was not open in the winter—perhaps this will now change.

Cart's Waste of Money

Cart's desperate pleas for funds to repair the Middlewich breach would be more convincing if they did not neglect other possible sources of revenue.

01 Llangollen BasinWe are currently moored in the basin at the end of the Llangollen (pictured), which was dug out some years ago by British Waterways to relieve the congestion there used to be in this location. I paid my £12 fee for two nights, but when I enquired about the possibility of a third was firmly told that the rules do not permit it "and they're very strict about it". I can understand this at the height of the summer, but at present there are five boats in the basin, which holds about 40, and there were none at all on the towpath moorings which are also subject to the charge. So why turn down additional revenue when it is offered?

Mind you, this small idiocy pales into insignificance when measured against the decision to 'rebrand' Cart. Talking to a volunteer at Pontcysyllte he told me that they are all going to get new clothes and badges and of course thousands of signs will need to be changed only six years after the last rebrand. The new logo is top secret and scheduled to be announced at Crick at the end of May.

01Liverpool linkThe excuse that the money (and they won't say how much) is coming out of the marketing budget is simply pathetic; why does Cart need a marketing budget (or a marketing department) at all? It is a monopoly; nobody else provides access to the canals, so why market it? Boaters have to buy a licence, walkers etc have already paid through their taxes. The whole thing sounds like a desperate attempt by the marketing department (I wonder how many it employs) to justify its existence and is a complete waste of money; I certainly won't be making any voluntary contributions while this sort of thing is going on. (The photograph shows part of the Liverpool Link.)

Another recent waste was the consultation on licence fees. A huge elaborate operation, costing tens of thousands of pounds, which produces a few minor tweaks to charge wide beams more and reduce the prompt-payment discount, which I am sure they were going to do anyway. Nothing is done to address the continuous moorer problem, which is what the majority of respondents actually wanted.

It will be years before the extra revenue even covers the cost of the consultation. Why consult anyway? Cart has the power to alter licence fees—why not just exercise it. Nearly all the answers they got will have been biased by the personal position of the respondent—after all, no wide beam owner was going to suggest extra fees. Of course, there is no consultation on the rebranding, where people could have an unbiased opinion; no doubt they realised that most people would just say: "Why bother?".

David Hymers