CRT: ‘A good year de­spite floods’

Canal Boat - - News -

DE­SPITE THE WIN­TER FLOODS and other emer­gency calls on its re­sources, the Canal & River Trust in­creased its spend­ing on wa­ter­way main­te­nance and re­duced un­sched­uled stop­pages, ac­cord­ing to its an­nual re­port for 2015-16.

It helps that this was the year that the £10m of ex­tra an­nual gov­ern­ment fund­ing kicked in. The cash boost was partly off­set by an ex­pected re­duc­tion in com­mer­cial in­come af­ter a one-off ma­jor prop­erty deal boosted last year’s fig­ures. But, even af­ter £3.8m went into emer­gency work in­clud­ing deal­ing with Pen­nine floods, cul­vert col­lapses and the Caen Hill tow­path washout, there was still more than £5m ex­tra spent on the rest of the net­work.

In ad­di­tion to work on the nav­i­ga­tions them­selves, £10m went into tow­path up­grades, thanks mainly to fund­ing from part­ners.

This spend­ing was re­flected in an over­all re­duc­tion in ‘as­sets’ (struc­tures) in the worst two cat­e­gories ( D and E) for con­di­tion from 14.1 to 13.8 per­cent; while the pro­por­tion of tow­paths in cat­e­gories A, B or C rose from 76.1 to 78.45 per­cent.

To­tal un­planned stop­page days fell by al­most 300 to 630, with the Trust set­ting it­self a tar­get for 2016-17 of cut­ting this be­low 570. The only slight dis­ap­point­ment was a small re­duc­tion in the per­cent­age of her­itage as­sets in good or ad­e­quate con­di­tion, from 98.6 to 96.9.

A suc­cess story of the year was said to be com­mu­nity adop­tions of sec­tions of canal, which rose by 50 per­cent to 147 – with a tar­get of 180 for next year. The num­ber of Friends of CRT donat­ing reg­u­larly rose from 10,000 to 16,000 (tar­get for 2016-17: 22,500) and there were 482,000 vol­un­teer hours worked (tar­get 520,000).

Out of a mod­est in­crease in staff num­bers (up 56 to 1,660), more than half the new jobs were on wa­ter­ways main­te­nance and re­pair. Mean­while, at the top, an­other three of the ‘old guard’ of for­mer Bri­tish Wa­ter­ways di­rec­tors de­parted, leav­ing Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Richard Parry with an al­most all-new team.

Look­ing to the fu­ture, Mr Parry said in his re­port that “the po­ten­tial trans­fer of the En­vi­ron­ment Agency’s nav­i­ga­tions to the Trust has been rein­vig­o­rated, with a joint project team formed”, and while sound­ing a note of cau­tion about the need for CRT to fully An­nual Re­port meet its re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, he re­ported “re­newed con­fi­dence that a sin­gle com­bined nav­i­ga­tion au­thor­ity may be de­liv­er­able”.

The year also saw a new Chair­man ap­pointed: Al­lan Leighton also looked to the fu­ture, declar­ing that “talk of de­cline is in the past”, and set­ting a chal­lenge of get­ting the wa­ter­ways “wo­ven into the hearts, minds and lives of the pub­lic” so they “never again face the threat of clo­sure” and in­stead ful­fil their “in­cred­i­ble” po­ten­tial for greater pub­lic good.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.