Closing waterways will prove a very bad decision for the industry

Published: Friday, 24 April 2020

THE decision by Canal & River Trust to close its navigations instead of its towpaths will prove a very bad decision for the waterways industry.

The result is that everything connected is closed down for the duration and the outcome will see a loss of business for many that will end in closures.  With everything 'dead' there is no demand for anything connected and when eventually Canal & River Trust relents it will see a massive downturn in navigational activities.

What is the point of carrying on

Many have told us that this is all too much and if the navigations are to be closed in preference to the towpaths what is the point in carrying on when they are unable to use their boats, with the number of second hand boats eventually flooding the market, with few buyers.

Daily we get comments that the canals would be ideal for self-isolating should the towpaths not be so crowded, and boaters cannot understand why the towpaths were chosen to be left open when they could not even allow the government's rules to be applied, yet the waterways closed, many telling of having contacted the Trust for its reason, yet with no sensible replies, as we have been shown.

Draconian rules

At the moment CaRT has decreed that no boats should move—and then only continuous cruisersfor emergency only.  Its draconian rules stating that no one therefore can take out their boats, or even visit them.

The marinas and their activities are all closed, with the big ones such as Barton, Aston and Mercia stating their restaurnats and shops, such as the Waterfront at Barton and the Boardwalk at Mercia all closed under government rules.

As for the holiday hire boat industry, the main one has shut its doors and the others can do nothing, for no hire boat can move, and coming up to May all should be well booked and having good business.  But will they ever again?  For even when it is all over will people want to share boats used by others, with the lingering fear of coronavirus?

Boat building

Boat building too, that has yet to fully recover from the downturn of a few years ago when so many went out of business will again collapse, it helped undoubtedly by the masses of second-hand craft that will flood the market, driving down prices.

The many eateries and pubs canal-side, now closed, will also have little chance of recovery, opening to a very reduced future clientele.

Restoration societies

Even waterway restoration societies will suffer, as again the necessary close working proximity of its volunteers will surely influence those, particularly the older generation, of the lingering possibility of contracting the disease.

The one decision to close the waterways will have a devastating effect for years to come, and will most certainly prove its stupidity.