Canal Boat - - News -

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.

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