Victor: Is Cart completely crackers?

Published: Sunday, 01 April 2018

HERE is Cart blithely announcing that it is going to spend a million or more re-branding itself and at the same time admitting that some boats cannot use a main waterways as it 'has not the funds to dredge it'!

If that is not completely crackers, then I do not know what is.

Cart re-branded itself some six years ago when it transformed from British Waterways, with all its offices, stationery, web commitments, signage, notices and a myriad of other things having to be changed, but in its rather suspect wisdom has decided to do it all again.

But since that time Cart has been flat-out introducing a plethora of many more signs and notices, for visitors, boaters, anglers and even ducks, plus those banners telling us where we are and arches springing up attempting to lure the unsuspecting to its waterways. All will now have to be changed, for of course it must have a new logo.

Oh yes, plus a change of uniforms for its staff.  Yet you fairly long standing boaters will well remember this will not be the first time, the uniform has been changed as they were once green. Anyway, that's where the money is going.

Not good timing

The same week this new spend was announced, we were told that the 'failing walls' between locks 2 and 3 of the Curdworth Flight of the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal had been 'successfully completed'. However Cart tells us it was 'unable to fully dredge the silt and remove the extensive debris due to its hazardous nature'.

Fairly deep draughted boats are now unable to travel the pound or get to the lock landing! Cart tells that it is 'easing' the problem in the short term, but it is—wait for it—'seeking to secure funds to do some further dredging work'!

Takes some believing, eh?


Let's hope that two boats don't meet in that pound, otherwise one is going to be well and truly grounded—or even both!

And how do single handers manage if they cannot get to the lock landings? I don't expect anyone at Cart will be unduly concerned.

The start of the season

This weekend saw the official start of the boating season, and already things are falling apart.

The balance beam on the bottom gate of Delph Bottom Lock on Dudley No 1 Canal has broken off. Which means the flight will be locked when staff are not present to work the lock.

The Kennet & Avon Canal is closed again as Cart tell us that now it is not just a lock beam but an whole gate that has fallen off and landed in the canal!  A boater is to blame it would have us believe.

However it is closed until a crane can been brought in to lift the gate out. This it tells us is at 'Padworth Middle Lock'.  But yet another 'Cartism' I'm afraid, as there is no such a lock on the Kennet & Avon!  Anyway, this was replaced in double quick time owing to the 'swift and dedicated action of our engineers, construction team and contractors'. I don't expect for one minute it was because the well advertised Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race was going though over the Easter holiday weekend...

To make it three failures, the Huddersfield Narrow Canal is closed at Lock 26 East, closed by the simple fact of lack of maintenance as it is so silted up that boats are unable to move having so little water.

And no doubt there will be many more to come.

Scottish Canals too

As narrowboatworld reported, the breakdown of two mechanical bridges in January on the Forth & Clyde Canal closed it as a through route between Scotland's two principal cities, but now a further mechanical bridge has given up the ghost.

The bascule bridge at Knightswood in Glasgow is the third bridge that is now out of action, and like its counterpart, Canal & River Trust in England, Scottish Canals are blaming lack of funds to repair the bridges that need new castings.

In addition to this closure, shorter operating times and days have been announced for the Lowland Canals, that with lack of maintenance is further restricting their use.

Scottish Canals have told the Inland Waterways Association that it is unlikely they will find a solution that allows normal use until additional funds are available.

Getting tough

The Bargees are screaming blue murder as one of it members has had his boat removed from the Lee Navigation, with the now expected cry that the Trust is evicting vulnerable boat dwellers making them homeless, and that it should be safeguarding such people by allowing them—though of course it does not say so—to live on their boats not only without a valid licence, a mooring or moving the required distance or even having either BSS or insurance, as is the case of the one on the Lee.

The National Bargee Travellers Association was set up to protect those with a continuous cruiser licence, but all too often complains of treatment to its members, overlooking that many have no intention of abiding by the rules they agree to when taking out such a licence. 

But the man, known locally as 'Slow Tony' had been warned over and over that unless he obtained a BSS certificate, insurance and licence he would be evicted and his boat removed from the water, and so eventually action was taken.

The Bargees do not seem to realise that should the Trust allow a boater to remain on the water with neither licence, mooring, BSS certificate or insurance it would open the flood-gates for many others—which perhaps is really, in view of its response, is exactly what the Bargees would like.

Not too good

I have to tell you that there have been no updales recently as our Editor, Thomas, is ill.  The reason your emails are not being answered...

Victor Swift