CaRT refusing Freedom of Information requests

Published: Wednesday, 06 June 2018

THE Canal & River Trust is proving to be not so 'open and honest' as it claims, as it is refusing to comply with Freedom of Information requests.

With its propensity for exaggeration and not giving out full information, the only way to obtain the actual facts from Canal & River Trust is via the Freedom of Information Act.

Important information

Much information has been gathered this way, in the past by Allan Richards when he wrote for narrowboatworld, ferreting out information that the Trust would rather not have published. At present he writes in the Floater, still providing important information that the Trust would rather not be seen, via the Freedom of Information Act.

But now, CaRT has refused to comply with requests from Allan in accordance with the Act, claiming it is vexatious.

Yet as the Floater points out 'From the beginning Canal & River Trust has claimed it wants to be open and honest with boaters and others. The Floater's Allan Richards has spent days trying to extract information through formal Freedom of Information requests that C&RT is now insisting are vexatious – even going as far as to claim that exposing the failures of its staff is somehow harassment. Allan now reports on the hazardous occupation of reporting errors and omissions in C&RT’s Board papers'.

In narrowboatworld

In the past, here are some of the instances of information that Allan had gleaned from CaRT by the Freedom of Information Act that we published, information that it would obviously preferred we had not: 

He had CaRT admitting that far from making money available for maintenance of the waterways, British Waterways Marinas Ltd subsidiary, made a loss of £877,642 during its 2014/15 financial year. 

He was able to discover that in addition to the 52,000 defects that Canal & River Trust admits on the waterways, there were 12,000 more, that had to take priority so were 'missed' off the calculation!

He found out that the public applying for ‘free information' from Canal & River Trust may lead to contact details being passed to a telemarketing company and used without their permission.

Allan discovered that a survey carried out by BDRC Continental for the Trust in August 2014 has found that 76% of boaters feel that the Trust does not respect them. Despite confirming that the full results of the survey would be published, the Trust has failed to do so.

Amongst it many doubtful statistics it was discovered that the information from CaRT that it had 'more than 11,000 'Friends' in 2015/16 the actual figure was 9,754!

Then CaRT's boating webpage had 'Our canals and rivers are home to over 35,000 boats...' . However, it then claimed it had 32,700 boats, an increase of 1% over the previous year!  With Allan telling—Sorry CaRT but 32,700 is 2,300 boats less than it states on your website.

In 2015 CaRT had to admit that it will spend £3.9 millions less on maintaining its waterways, and the following year it will spend £4.1m less and the year after £4.6m less still.

All the above could only be gleaned by use of the Freedom of Information Act, with the last example only obtained after we had published its failure to respond at the first request.

Needless to state, there was much more information ascertained via the Freedom of Information Act.

More published

Since writing for the Floater, Allan has discovered many discrepancies via the Act and they have been published, obviously to the chagrin of CaRT,  so it is attempting to stop them, by demanding 'Stop asking us questions'. 

How 'open and honest' is that?