Self praise is no recommendation

Published: Saturday, 06 November 2021

So CaRT have published their annual boaters report again, writes John Coxon.

I see it's full of self praise in the form of 'look what we've done, ain't we clever?' Well, I have no interest in CaRT praising itself. It only does it as it appears to be the only 'praise' it gets! 'Self praise is no recommendation', as the proverb so rightly points out.

Where has the shortfall gone?

The first thing I noticed was the shortfall of £32,100,000 between income and expenditure. Where has this £32.1 millions gone? Is it just being kept for a rainy day? Perhaps some should have been spend on preventative maintenance? Interesting to note it's not far short of the amount they get off boaters licences and mooring fees?

It would make such a difference if they just doubled up the £23.2 million they say they spent on caring for the waterways which, as we all know, is not happening far too often with their 'wait until it breaks' policy!

Broken, worn out or rotten

How many times have we had broken lock collars or worn out heel posts or broken rotten balance beams etc closing locks, and consequently the whole waterway? An extra spend of £23.2 million would have prevented those from happening for a start! It would also have been able to prevent most of the breaches we seem to be getting on a regular basis now-a-days by allowing proper, timely, regular inspections to take place?

By the way, this is just going to get worse and worse with the policy of not mowing the full width of the towpaths as it will hide the early signs of breaches from view until it's too late! It certainly wouldn't cost £32.1 million to mow the full width twice a year?

Yes, CaRT are very good at self praise. I was listening to a woman the other day in a pub praising CaRT for all the work they have done in keeping the waterways open. I asked her where she was moored? "Oh, I don't have a boat" she said, "it's in the information CaRT send me as I'm a 'friend'".

Finishing her contributions

I gave her a list of failures straight off the top of my head. She was gobsmacked! She said that can't be right, and another boater there said it was! When we told her about the money wasted on towpath upgrades for cyclists she said she was finishing her contributions as she did not agree with cyclists or e-scooters etc on footpaths!

Another thing I was interested to read about in the report was the supposed  "...Trust’s role in supporting boaters’ welfare...". Well, as a continuous cruiser I have had absolutely no contact or information sent to me about any welfare help available at all from anyone! Just an email telling me where I could find this information would have been nice, but no — nothing at all.

In fact, throughout the whole of the last two years whilst we have had this pandemic I have felt that boaters have been totally left to their own devices and have been 'thrown to the wolves' by CaRT!

No help whatsoever

I'm 70 years old and live alone on my boat. 'Supporting boaters welfare' they say? Well I can tell you now that no-one has contacted me to ask if I'm okay, able to get my jabs, food, water, medication or need help with anything in those two years, even during the forced lockdowns!

Now we have even had to resort to wearing body cameras as the towpaths are becoming so dangerous because there are no longer any employees about and the long grass and bushes that CaRT find so essential are a perfect breeding ground for all kinds of vermin and other nasties and that includes the two legged kind, both on and off wheels

What is CaRT's reaction to this increased menacetotal silence. Afraid to acknowledge it as they cannot bring themselves to state that there is some danger on the waterways in case it scares someone off, like putting larger more informative notices on locks warning about the dangers of cills!

Safeguarding team?

The report states something about a safeguarding team? What the hell does a 'safeguarding team' do? No one has ever offered to safeguard me? Even requests asking CaRT for safe havens for boaters during the lockdowns fell on deaf ears!

We had to put up with vastly increased masses of runners, ramblers, cyclists, dog walkers etc every day during the lockdowns because CaRT would not allow us to have a short length of towpath closed off where we could moor in isolation safely.

Safeguarding? Not as I see it! We've been hounded, grounded and ignored! Boaters' welfare? What welfare? The only time in the last two years CaRT have contacted me directly was to tell me my licence fee was due! Not a hint of any offers of help or useful information? No, just thunderous silence due to total indifference.