“ANOTHER YEAR OF PROGRESS” FOR CRT
A rise in boat numbers, a slight improvement in waterway condition, and a small fall in money spent on the canals (but one which the Canal & River Trust says is due to the tailing-off in external funding following the flood damage of 2015) are among the headline figures of CRT’s annual report for 2017-18.
Thanks to increases in income from boating (up to £38.1m not including its marinas subsidiary BWML), Government grant, commercial ventures (including £51.1m from investments) and donations (thanks to greater support from the People’s Postcode Lottery), CRT had £156.9m to spend. This enabled the Trust to increase the budget for major infrastructure works by its contractors (to £22m), in-house maintenance, repair and other works (£27.6m), and dredging (from £6.3m to £7.7m), but vegetation control fell from £7.9m to £7.8m. At the same time, the Trust’s management restructuring cost £2m in redundancies, although total staff increased slightly.
Boat numbers rose from 33,536 to 34,207, community adoptions from 181 to 225, and members of the Friends giving regular donations from 20,600 to 24,100 – but still short of CRT’s target of 28,500.
CRT’s efforts to sell itself to the public (in anticipation of tough negotiations for Government funding after the current contract ends in 2027) saw its relaunch, new logo and new emphasis on public wellbeing, and some success in raising public awareness of the Trust (up to 36%) and visitor satisfaction (to 91%), but a fall off in total numbers of visits.
Condition of canal structures improved from 88.6% to 88.8% in fair (grade ‘C’) condition or better; while towpaths went up from 78.5% to 79.7%, in what CRT describes as “another year of progress”.
The report is on canalrivertrust.org.uk.