Coronavirus and Canal & River Trust

Published: Saturday, 11 April 2020

WHILST Canal & River Trust is vacillating on how to respond to coronavirus, its customers are certainly not.

Time and time again over the past few weeks readers have contacted us telling that to prevent further spread of the disease the towpaths should be closed to all but boaters, and here are just a few of the comments in addition to the many already published.

Fradly5pmThe latest from Brian Jarrett who stated—I've read with dismay all the mixed messages put out by CaRT in their various publications.  The easiest way to take the heat out of this unprecedented situation is to CLOSE the towpaths to 'the general public' during lock down.  A clear and explicit statement.

In all of this there has been no comment regarding CaRT’s Duty of Care to its paying 'live-aboard customers' moored along the various towpaths too narrow to socially distance!  Brian included this picture of Fradly towpath taking around 5:00pm, telling—I turned round and scurried back to my boat!

What about risk assessment?

From another regular contributor James Henry—Time and time again we are told by CaRT that something or another cannot be done as it is waiting risk assessment.  Too many times I've been held up at stoppages with this excuse thrown at me, but what about the risk assessment of spreading a deadly disease on its towpaths?  That is something that is far more important, but not a word.

Helen Cripps also brought up risk assessment—I would have though the first thing that Canal & River Trust would do when coronavirus appeared was do a very quick risk assessment to people on its towpaths, but nothing.  The reason is obvious to all, if it did it would discover that there was great risk as the government's distancing could not be upheld and there was a risk of users spreading it.

Lack of strategy

Still another regular contributor, Jim Cracken, brought up CaRT's strategy—I have been keeping in touch with the Trust's strategy over the coronavirus disease, but can find none, as it varies from day to day, those silly signs produced, then replaced by others is a clear sign (no pun intended) that it has none.  The internet notices contradict each other and often don't make sense.

Still with regular contributors, Brian Hawkins cannot understand the contradictions—They [Canal & River Trust] are people telling visitors to keep their distance when walking the towpaths of two metres apart (which we all know they cannot!) then tells them to 'stay home, protect the NHS. save lives.  How can that be?  They want to make their minds up one way or another as they can't have both. Close the towpaths and keep people safe.

Doesn't make sense

John Bowden, another contributor believes Canal & River Trust is not making sense—They say all those walkers, cyclists, etc are not now allowed to go past my boat, so must turn back,  But it doesn't make sense for many do a 'round' trip combining the towpath with footpaths to get back to their starting points, so does Canal & River Trust actually believe that these people, perhaps towards the end of their trip are going to see a boat(s) moored, then turn and go all the way back.  That is absolutely idiotic, but well worthy of their thinking nowadays.

Continuous cruiser Ann Fleming want to know why no help from the IWA—I have searched the web site of the Inland Waterways Association but can discover nothing from them to help its members in this dangerous period, in fact my husband and I are no longer members after being so for seven years, as it gives us very little help at all.  We both believe, as I have discovered so do many more, that since it joined up with the Canal & River Trust it dare not upset any applecart.  I have been told that its membership is now only a fraction of what it was when it was a real independent authority looking solely after our interests.

Make your mind up time

Lastly from our very regular contributor T. Lang—The management of CaRT must really make its mind up about the towpaths and follow the government's advice, not its own, and keep people safe as all those people have with their parks and paths, and close the blasted towpaths.  Why should CaRT think itself above everybody else  keeping  the towpaths open so spreading coronavirus with their restricted widths, while the rest of the country closes down?

We have the permission from all the above to publish their remarks, but there are others stating their feelings about the way the authorities are acting over coronavirus who are afraid of repercussions, so have not included.

Of all the comments we have received concerning coronavirus there was not a single one praising the Trust over its decisions.