Victor: That old chestnut again

Published: Sunday, 23 April 2017

A BIRMINGHAM councillor has put forward the motion to provide funds for the use of the Severn and adjoining waterways to provide water-borne freight to and from the city, so saving the use of lorries and pollution.

Harold Akins believes that transporting large items by water will save not only congestion on the roads but pollution from diesel—the present 'bad boy'.


But alack and alas, poor Harold hasn't a clue what he is raving about, for the transport of 'his' large items cannot be too large as they will have to travel through narrow locks. Neither will they have to be too heavy as the route via the Worcester & Birmingham Canal means the Tardebigge Flight—where even our less that two feet draughted boat has been grounded in the very short pounds. As to pollution just how does he think the boat will be propelled? By sail?

No my friend it will be propelled by that awful diesel, chugging away for days on end at three miles per hour and slowed by all those many locks, though it could go a little quicker on the Severn at four miles per hour.

And yes, always providing something has not broken causing a stoppage.

Get real mate!

Now its 'Summer Stoppages'

We are all now well used to 'winter stoppages' where Cart does what it can to repair the crumbling waterways, but now we have 'summer stoppages'—well that is what Cart is calling the work needed to repair the crumbling brickwork on Lock 6 on the Aston Flight on the Birmingham & Fazeley in Birmingham.

Notwithstanding that 'winter stoppages' are well advertised in advance, there is ner a mention of a list of 'summer stoppages' as the work is described.

So if you are cruising to or from Birmingham, the Aston Flight is closed for the near future, so it's a bit of a detour around the Digbeth Branch and Grand Union. I wish you luck on the Digbeth Branch as this has always proven a problem for us, with either empty pounds, getting grounded or clouting the tunnel!

Smoke and mirrors

So the latest from Cart is a three stage licensing consultation.  What is all that about, eh?

Well, I should imagine it's a convoluted way of upping the boat licence fees and at the same time having a good excuse for slapping extra charges on wide beam boats. And perhaps at the same time sorting out those pesky 'bargees'.

But a three stage consultation and all it is costing is a bit over the top—why not just do it and save all that hassle and money, we all know It's going to happen anyway.

The reason for the consultation is that Cart would have us believe it is 'often cited' the licencing system is out of date or complex, but nowhere is this actually shown—complaints are not the real reason, so why not just do it, no need to tell fibs as an excuse.

Emmas DreamHow do we know?

We know it's going to happen as at a meeting of the National Advisory Group last year it was rather clearly stated:

'License [Licence] pricing based on width vs length in principle makes sense. There is a justification for charging based on width vs length as boats will take up more water space, mooring width, room in locks etc. There has been a growth in wide beam boats in recent years, addressing the implications of this on the network and other boaters is a pressing issue.'

So now you know.

Doesn't portent too well

So now we have the police emptying pounds in the search for long-lost bodies. It too is short of cash and some bright spark has realised it is a lot cheaper and uses a lot less manpower to empty a canal pound to look for a body than employ divers to do it.  But I thought this a bit crazy, for though the missing person originated from the Aston Canal area, there was a sighting of him on the South Coast.

I reckon that we all hope that this does not become standard practice, as it is only too easy to empty a pound—or two.

But what was Cart doing about it?  Not even a stoppage notice...

Not looking too good

Before very long we shall be deserting narrowboatworld to make our third attempt to reach Bugsworth Basin from Sawley, and hopefully get back. 

Stoppages prevented the former attempts, and it is not looking too good this time, for during March there were no less than 12 instances of a waterway being closed to navigation, most caused by locks having to be closed for one reason or another.

Not looking too good indeed.

Victor Swift