Coronavirus—Societies and Canal & River Trust

Published: Thursday, 09 April 2020

AGAIN I see that all the canal societies are unanimous in their silence about the unfettered use of the towpaths by the masses at the moment, writes John Coxon.

I've come to the conclusion that all these canal societies are only interested in kowtowing to CaRT and accumulating money.  Remember, I mentioned their silence when CaRT shut a quarter of the system when we had that drought period and not one of them said anything or objected to the loss.  

Let's hope that more boaters see them for what they really are and withhold their hard earned cash in the future.

Police not only ones on the front line

The incident on the towpath where that man was arrested and jailed at Swarkestone is just the start I fear.  I would not be surprised to see many more stories like this soon.  The police aren't the only ones on the front line on the towpaths, so are the continuous cruisers as has been shown by this incident.  One has to ask, 'What has CaRT done to prevent further incidents of this nature'?  Answer—nothing!

It appears CaRT just couldn't give a toss about people and boaters in particular.  This pandemic is playing right into its hands.  At the end of the year they will be proudly flashing how many visitors they've had on the towpaths.

One wordstatistics.  Is all it cares about. Their circa 440,000,000 visitors in the year showed this and I expect it will be telling much the same again, but not a word about the fact its policies could probably be responsible for spreading this disease and therefore be responsible for many deaths by the time it is over.  Out of sightout of mind.  As long as they don't die on the towpath it will not be its responsibility.

Is CaRT fit to run the navigations?

Is CaRT fit to run the navigations at this dangerous time?  It stops the two groups that provide the money from using the canals viz: boaters and anglers, yet allows all non-paying canoeists, cyclists, dog walkers, runners, paddle boarders, ramblers and families etc. use them completely unfettered allowing them all to come here and spread this disease willy nilly among themselves, and also passing it onto boaters trying to self-isolate.  Examples of all these groups have passed me regularly in the last week and are still doing so as I write!

Asking people not to use the towpaths will have no impact upon people who do not read CaRT literature.  How much effect has the 'we'll educate them' campaign had on cyclists?  If people are ignoring government instructions in parks what hope of them obeying a CaRT notice on a website or a small notice stuck on a lock beam?


I have noticed an increase in towpath use since CaRT started it's 'please stay away' campaign.  If CaRT think it can stop it like that those who thought it up are deluded.  With all the other places closed people are flocking to the towpaths, so one has to ask:

¶ Have CaRT management no common sense?
Can they not see what is happening for themselves?
Where do they get their information from?
Why have they not asked the police to patrol the towpaths?

Government guidelines

When challenged CaRT told it can't close the towpaths because of government guidelines.  What twaddle!  Does it think that boaters have the intellect of a amoeba?  Does it really think we are going to believe that?  This is 2020 not 1720, boaters are far more educated now!

Boaters are fully aware that councils have closed parks and beaches.  The National Trust has closed all it's parks and gardens as have all the National Parks, so boaters instructed to stay-put on the towpaths would like to know what makes CaRT think it's so special that it's actions will apply outside the government guidelines?

I only hope boaters, and not only continuous cruisers, do not forget the way they have been treated during this emergency by the very people who are supposed to be looking after their interests.  I would fully support a campaign to withhold our licence money, either this year or next year in protest at the way we are, and have been, treated by CaRT!  But, I could not see any of the canal societies organising this as they are too afraid and under CaRT's jurisdiction.  And if anyone thinks CaRT will give boaters a third off their next licence as compensation they are living cloud cuckoo land!

Judicial review

I would also support any campaign to get a judicial review about the present operation of CaRT and it's policies, not just for the boaters but also for the people of Whalley Bridge and others in danger of CaRT's complacency.  I feel this complacency and policies are becoming dangerous and not just to boaters but the general public.

It is time CaRT was made responsible for it's actions, or more accurately—inactions.  It is after all, a public body, responsible to the public for the welfare of the public owned canal system and all it contains including boaters and visitors.  It needs to remember this and realise it is not above the law nor outside government guidelines and instructions, any more than the rest of us are.