From the Tiller

by Charles Foster

We are already half way through the year and a great deal has been going on in the residential boating world. I am currently writing this on the slipway at Stafford Boat Club, between blacking sessions and trying not to get the laptop keys too tarry with my grubby paws. This has brought my mind round to maintenance and the smooth running of the RBOA.

So what has been happening since the last issue? Crick show has come and gone. I will take this opportunity to welcome all you new members who joined at the show, also to existing members whom made themselves known on the stand, many of whom have given us some insights into how they use, interact and would like to see the Association in the future. This was absolutely great and what we need to keep offering you on the way of information and help into the future. I must also thank the members who gave up their time to man the stand, and whose assistance and knowledge most definitely showed why the RBOA has been in existence for so long, professionally advising and acting for the residential boater.

The only problem we are having is the sheer weight of work coming into us means that we are not as reactive or as fast as we would like to be in getting back to individuals. As with all voluntary organisations, members willing to assist are in great demand. If you feel that you have a skill or expertise, plus the time that could benefit the association, please contact me in complete confidence to see if we have a suitable place available for you on the team to take advantage of your skills.

So what have I been doing on your behalf? I was invited by the IWA to attend the waterways Member of Parliament awards function at the Houses of Parliament. This was a great opportunity to meet MPs and a lot of other influential members of the inland boating communities. It is not what you know but who you know in this world that make things happen.

All the boating organisations need to get together more and be more proactive in trying to deal with the problems that are currently facing us. If we were able to find more co-operation and a common course of action, then we would all have a much stronger case to put forward to those in government or other regulatory bodies. As it is, we all do our bit, but due to the fractionalized nature of our approaches, nothing will or seems to get done and we just get fobbed off with the usual platitudes.

I must apologise for the tardiness in some of my responses. This is due to the large amount of legal issues and mooring related problems around the country which we are becoming involved in for our members. As we have no really stock answers, each case has to be studied and information gained to come up with amicable solutions if at all possible, but unfortunately this does not always happen. This area of our activities is very worrying as councils, planners and developers are attempting to ride rough-shod over the residential boaters with the support of the waterways authorities, whose view appears to be that they need to pander to the wishes of big business and profit instead of heritage lifestyle and the sustainability of our waterways being available to the boaters well into the future. Maybe it is the wish of these organisations to have waterways devoid of boats, silted up and cycle tracks not – much of a future in my mind!

That’s my little rant and as always your views and concerns as members should be aired. If it is possible we will always try to assist within the limitations of the Association.

The RBOA Newsletter, Soundings, is sent free to members six times a year.

It is also available to non-members for £2 (+ £1.20 P&P).