Victor: We are on our own

Published: Sunday, 28 July 2019

OUR contributor John Coxon asks: Do we run from the bullies—or fight?  Referring of course to the mass of failures and closures to our waterways.

Going on to remark of the silence from associations and clubs who are supposedly there to represent us. He is one of the many who are no longer members of the many associations, such as the Association of Boat Owners whose slogan is—Listening to boat owners, Speaking out for boat owners, Representing boat owners.

Yet its website news at the moments champions Canal & River Trust for simply extending a slight response to its emergency telephone number! And then congratulates it on yet another Boaters' Survey—to which our Thomas took one look and refused to publish! Make of that what you will.

Ner a word about the continuing failures and stoppages, now so obviously the result of the 'wait until it breaks' policy, just proven by my comment that Wheaton Aston Lock cill was about to give up the ghost and did! And that the Albion Lock on the Trent & Mersey is also on the way out, its walls slowly expanding.

The Inland Waterway Association

And neither is he a member of the Inland Waterways Association, since it officially went into cahoots with CaRT, its once renowned militant capability has gone by the board, more concerned at getting the Environmental Agency waters under CaRT's flawed regime

And again championing the CaRT Boaters' Survey, believing it seems, every statistic, not for one moment questioning of how they were arrived at.  Shades of the ridiculous 450,000,000 visits a year!

Royal Yachting Association

As for the Royal Yachting Association, all  that seems to be interested in is promoting itself at every opportunity, and offering ever more 'goodies' for new members, with little concern for the deteriorating condition of the inland waterways.

CartSignThe associations

I feel most sorry for the various waterway associations and those attempting to restore the old waterways, hampered as they are by the ever increasing rules and regulations being handed down from CaRT, usually on the back of the Health & Safety Executive.

Rules that have even stopped the volunteers working on their own any more—they must be at least in pairs, that has caused no few of the more industrious to pack it in. 

So should you wonder why not so many locks are repainted these days, well a fellaor a lasscan no longer go out with a brush and a tin and spend a relaxing afternoon doing a bit of painting.

At least CaRT has saved having to have its signs painted any more—it has dipped into our money again and replaced them, and added hundreds more, with more expensive metal ones, complete of course with its half sunken tyre.


Not sure if it is because it is a bit of a slow DIY job, or the brakes have been put on, but there hasn't been much progress over the past year with the new marina that was started a couple of years back at Common Lock at Fradley.

Things are looking more or less the same as they did then, with no activity whatsoever when we passed in June.

FradleyMar19Mind you, those that were persuaded to build new marinas by the then British Waterways 'Marina Scheme' were somewhat put out that having invested considerable cash, British Waterways were not limiting the number of marinas as promised, but giving permission right left and centre.

The eastern end of the Trent & Mersey finished up with no less than four large ones in the space of a few years, with Kings Bromley, Barton turns, Aston and Mercia, with I can tell you, no few complaints to the 'deaf' ears of British Waterways that had landed itself four nice little earners from connection fees, etc.

That leaves me to wonder if there have been a few objections to still another—right in the middle of those already there.

The reason

I see there have been a couple more paddle failure over the past week, with the locks closed in both instances.

ChainedPaddleFirst there was the 'sluice' failure on Lock 17E on the Huddersfield Narrow, with the subsequent closure, followed a couple of days later by the failure, this time the paddle was called a paddle, failure on Lock 34 of the Rochdale, again the navigation closed.

Though the Huddersfield failure was quickly resolved, the Rochdale one 'had complications', but again these too were overcome and the navigation reopened.

The real problem of course is that like many locks nowadays there is only one paddle working on gates, and when that goes, no matter how quickly the paddle is repaired, boaters have to suffer delays and all too often hire boats are unable to be returned on time.

It really is time that 'winter maintenance' made sure all paddle were working come a new season, then, and only then, would boaters be at least free of these constant stoppages.

Another new policy?

There were a number of very annoyed boaters wanting to use the Atherstone Flight on the Coventry recently. For CaRT had closed the flight owing to a broken collar on a lock beam, but had 'forgotten' to report it on its stoppage web pages.

It was only a returning boater that alerted others heading to the flight that it was closed, with the result that there were six boats stuck at Fazeley Junction waiting for the flight to reopen.

But worse was to come! For not only did CaRT 'forget' to give notice of the closure of the flight on its web pages, but compounded the insult but not publishing when it opened either!

It was actually opened on the Saturday, but the exasperated boaters at Fazeley keeping an eye on the web pages in vain, only discovered this on the Monday by a text from a fellow boater who had come through. Then, on the Tuesday, CaRT did deign to publish that the flight was open.

Victor Swift