Serial cock-ups!

THE Canal & River Trust's (CaRT) cock-ups come thick and fast with no less than four over in the Christmas period. 

A poor Council election turnout, a cancelled Q&A session, more infrastructure failures and a fatally flawed mooring consultation suggest that CaRT's new ‘customer services' oriented management is in complete disarray.

Council election

Whilst there is little doubt that the elections to CaRT's council were badly managed, this provides only a partial explanation for the dismal turnout. As reported by narrowboatworld (No confidence in CaRT), in the private boater constituency there was a drop in turnout from 27.4% at the last election (March 2012) to just 6.8%. Other constituencies fared little better.

However, as a report from Roger Hanbury (Head of Governance) reveals, CaRT had a specific objective to increase voter turnout as a demonstration of support for the Trust.

Needless to say, CaRT attempted to bury these truly shocking results. Friday is always a good day to bury bad news. The Friday before Christmas was even better!

Q&A session

The following is taken from CaRT's Boaters Update dated 4th December 2015:

‘Question time for the boating team

As if our December diaries aren't hectic enough, we're hoping you could make room for one more little happening.

On the afternoon of the 18th December the boating team will be taking to the internet to answer any questions you may have.

We may also try out something new—a live Q&A session. We know you're interested in what our boating team gets up to and what's in store for 2016 so we're going to ask for your questions in advance and then live broadcast our answers. Fingers crossed!

Keep an eye on the Facebook Boating page to find out how to take part.'

However, it did not happen! There was nothing ever published on the Boating Facebook page to show how to take part and no explanation at the time as to why the event did not take place!

One stated: ‘Perhaps the boating team ‘bottled out' thinking boaters would ignore them. On the other hand perhaps they thought that they might have to answer a few awkward questions...'

When pressed on the matter a few days ago, CaRT claimed that the event was cancelled due to illness and technical difficulties. It conveniently forgot to explain why an announcement was not made at the appropriate time...

CaRT nowhere to be seen

Of course CaRT can't be blamed for the recent infrastructure failures as a result of the recent flooding. However, they can certainly be blamed for how they reacted. One boater posted on CaRT's facebook page:

‘Nothing more fun than being up to your neck in sewage for 12 hours trying to save other people's boats while CaRT is nowhere to be seen'.

That's certainly a different view that the one promoted by the Trust of staff reacting quickly to the situation!

However the start of the cock-up in this case goes back some years to CaRT's financial settlement with government. Government were told that CaRT's plans allowed for dealing with major events such as breaches or asset failures. Furthermore, the Trustees believed that the risk of these occurring was low. Government, for its part made it abundantly clear that it would make no more money available and the financial settlement was not renegotiable.

Despite this, CaRT has just announced that it is approaching government for financial assistance in dealing with the latest asset failures.

Hopefully, government will forget what was agreed ...

Mooring consultation

Most boaters will remember the South East Visitor Mooring consultation (Now it's grumbles) where it was found that CaRT had no evidence that mooring restrictions needed changing at any of the 22 mooring locations under consideration. One of the outcomes of that situation was a framework document that describes an approved process to allow ‘waterway managers to make local decisions around changes to short term moorings whilst ensuring the approach, evidence gathering, consultation and final decision is undertaken consistently'.

Despite the requirement for changes to mooring restrictions to be ‘evidence based', a new consultation has been issued that fails to document such evidence (CaRT Consultation cock-up).

It seems that history is about to repeat itself!

Taking responsibility

It is probably too much to ask that those responsible actually acknowledge that they have got it wrong and take responsibility.

... and probably too much to ask that CaRT stops treating it customers with such complete disregard.