From the Tiller

by Charles Foster

One step forward and two backwards seems the name of the game at the moment. We must all be patient, keep our cool and stay safe. Really, we must be prepared to write off for this year, which started with so much promise, with the change of status to that of a charity, bigger presence at Crick and a new direction for our organisation with the theme of ‘Cradle to Grave’ benefiting all our members. On the surface you can see little in the way of changes to our operations, but I can assure you that a lot of foundation work has been done over the last few months by your committee. It has been unfortunate that we have had to postpone many meetings, including our AGM, until this crisis is controlled. Your committee has agreed to continue to act as per the last AGM until we can have a safe venue. The use of Zoom, Teams etc. is not the panacea to getting things agreed and sorted, especially with the difficulties of internet connection via the use of dongles. There is no beating what can be achieved by good old face to face communication. We must bide our time.

Life continues and we have been able to assist members on mooring problems, benefit claims, red diesel, lack of maintenance on all waterways, contractual terms and obligations, car insurance, boat sales and purchases, to name but a few. A real potential problem we face is on the waterways authorities’ methods of dealing with mooring controls by use of Car Parking Companies to do their job! You will see more on this, in this issue.

Another area for concern is that of the political nature of Charities such as CRT and others in how they are trying tochange the whole landscape of our waterways, throwing out the employing of staff and increasing the use of volunteers, with a growing dependency on organisations such as the restoration groups, local authorities, cycling associations etc. No mention of boaters at all in the future planning.

In my latest communications with the Charity Commissioners we are viewed as being political! I wish we were – at least maybe our views would be listened to by the real decision makers. I am in the process of revaluating and submitting a revised application to the Charity Commissioners.

It would appear that CRT latest Affiliation Charter is again to control all organisations with an independent mind by way of us all joining together with them to deal with Government. I personally do not think so. Our independence, as with other organisations, is very necessary in the projection of our varying needs, not one that suits the biggest player. As with all information from CRT, the rub is in what it does not say, not what it appears to say.

We as a group are continuing to offer help and advice to members as needed. I am looking forward to the return of face to face meetings; also, to when we can really enjoy our restful, well maintained and respectfully managed waterways. Possibly I am wrong in this New World, but good old customer service and relationships’ management for most managing bodies is paramount. So why are they getting it all so wrong. Simply they do not listen.

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