Unannounced stoppage traps boaters at Hillmorton

Published: Wednesday, 10 November 2021

I ARRIVED at my planned overnight mooring just below Hillmorton locks yesterday, intending to pass through the locks today, writes Alan N Estherby.

I was aware of a planned stoppage, published by CaRT in their Winter Stoppages Notices, at lock 4 at Hillmorton which was due to start yesterday, but was reassured by the stoppage notice that lock 4’s paired twin, lock 3, would be available for passage and that the lock flight would remain open.

Waterway completely closed

However we have been unable to proceed as CRT’s contractor has closed lock 3 as well as lock 4, due to the need to give access for plant and equipment which has involved building a temporary bridge over lock 3. This means the waterway is now completely closed, and I am stranded just six hours cruising from my home mooring, and need to return to work on Thursday.

Having looked at the work, there is no alternative to complete closure, but this should have been foreseen by CaRT and notified accordingly, in which case I could have planned to be through the locks before work started.

Inaccurate stoppage information

Instead, thanks to CRT’s incompetence and inaccurate stoppage information I, and many other boaters are stranded and inconvenienced.

It is worth noting two points here; first, more than 24 hours after the closure CaRT have still not updated their website, nor have they issued a stoppage notice via email (I am on their mailing list for these). Second, with the Hatton Flight on the Grand Union also closed at lock 45 there is now no route to and from Birmingham, and points north, from the south. Again, this should have been foreseen and the works planned to follow on, one from the other, rather than concurrently as has happened.

Serious incompetence

I regard this as serious incompetence on the part of CaRT, and feel an inquiry is needed to avoid a recurrence in the future.