I BELIEVE that 2017 will mark an end to leisure boating as we have known it, writes Martin Brooks.
This is due to many factors, such as cheap foreign holidays, climate change leading to more wet weather in this country, a decline in canal-side pubs, lack of interest among the young, increasing costs of boat ownership, poor condition of the system resulting in stoppages, and more.
Outlook very grim
When you factor in safety issues caused by speeding cyclists, dog muck and other undesirables on the towpaths the outlook is very grim. Lets face it, if you were a holidaymaker, would you choose to bring your children here?
Two weeks in the Canaries soaking up the sun beats two weeks in Milton Keynes in the rain, especially when its cheaper!
The very negative attitude of the Chronically Under-maintained Navigations Trust towards boats leads me to believe that there is a possible hidden agenda in place.
People say that boats are their principal source of income, but does the cost of keeping the system navigable outweigh that? If the Trust could completely write-off the maintenance backlog by way of letting the system fall into disrepair would that not be to its financial advantage?
This would leave it free to convert the remaining towpaths into high speed cycle ways, and the remaining pounds into wildlife habitats, which does appear to be the primary objective.
As for waterways businesses, I think the Trust would have no hesitation in abandoning them to their fate, look at the mis-sold marina débâcle of the past!
Maybe some limited areas might remain navigable for the hire boats, but who knows?
The remaining private boaters would be mainly house boats like myself, who would not care if the pounds became isolated, so long as the price does not go up!
Remember you heard it here first!
[This is of course the view of Martin, not particularly that of narrowboatworld.]