Condition of waterways IS getting worse

Published: Wednesday, 05 June 2019

THE state of the waterways, contrary to Canal & River Trust's statements, is getting worse, as Jess Williams relates:

Four years ago, narrowboatworld revealed that CaRT's backlog of defects was over 52,000. It published an article by contributor Allan Richards who told us that Canal & River Trust had over 52,000 outstanding defect notifications recorded on its SAP database. Four years on, the short article—Over 52,000 defects!—is still worth a read.

26 defects for each mile of its waterway

The article gave us the fact that CaRT had 26 defects for each mile of its waterways. It also told us that the Trust was setting itself targets to fix just 4,000 to 5,000 of these defects each year but also failing to meet those targets. Furthermore, the article corrected a misconception I had that CaRT's 'fix on fail policy' is something new. It is not. Boaters were suggesting that CaRT had adopted a 'fix on fail policy' four years ago!

However, I get ahead of myself.

Chernobyl Childrens' Project

I first met Allan Richards some years ago whilst locking up the Lapworth flight. Alone, he quietly asked me if I was aware of the Chernobyl Childrens' Project and, in particular, the recuperative holidays offered. I was not aware but Allan explained. His boat club had hired a couple of day boats with the financial assistance of local 'Lions' to give 12 'Chernobyl Children' a day out on the canals.

To cut a long story short we agreed to be locked up by the 'Chernobyl Children' under the guidance of Allan's cruising club. It was a magical experience tinged with sadness due to the Belarus doctor informing us that half the seemingly healthy kids would not reach 25 years of age.

Allan the CaRT critic

It was some time before I realised that Allan the dedicated volunteer was also Allan the CaRT critic!

By chance, I bumped into Allan a couple of days ago walking several very well behaved dogs at Lapworth. He tells me that, despite mostly retiring from writing in June 2018 on his 70th birthday, he retains a keen interest in what he calls 'waterways politics'.

Asked if CaRT's waterways were in decline he said yes but took my email address saying that he would get back to me with further information. He did, pointing me to narrowboatworld's article of four years ago which reported CaRT as saying that it had more than 52,000 defects on its system.Furthermore, he provided me with a link to a much more recent CaRT document  which shows that the number of defects has grown over a four year period from 52.000 to more than 75,000.

Even with my feeble grasp of maths that's 37.5 defects for each mile of Cart's waterways ...