As a liveaboard constant cruiser, I have some very real concerns about the transfer of British Waterways to charity status. My dealings with them as they are have been straightforward, and their gold license offers better value for a boat of our size than the corresponding EA license.
The first concern is the lack of, and disjointed, information that’s reaching boaters. Very little has been done to address this, and apart from a single event, in London, on a school night, I have seen nowehere that we, as boaters, can ask questions.
I had a very nice public response on Facebook from John Benyon about the consultations – but that was pretty much a get off line and get in queue. I’ve had no response to anything since.
Today is the last day of the public consultation. I have seen nothing on TV, heard nothing on radio, no emails from governing bodies suggesting that it was an important time to respond. It’s not just important – it’s vital for everyone who walks along the riverbanks, who canoes or kayaks, who rows on the river, sails on the river, lives alongside the river or lives, like us, on the river.
With regard to specific questions raised by the second, equally badly run, consultation on the transfer of British Waterways to a charity - my thoughts:
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With my other (work) hat on, I’ve been involved this year with Tweetcamp. Not in a PR capacity, but behind the scenes with odd bits here and there. There’s an awesome team and if 2009 was anything to go by, Tweetcamp will rock!
I haven’t really blogged about here, because, frankly, the minute the tickets went up, they were gone! But thanks to some additional sponsorship money, there’s a few more tickets been made available: http://tweetcamp2011.eventbrite.com/
It’s an unconference, where people using Twitter get together to expand on the things they’re doing with, well, Twitter.
The event is free, food and coffee provided, and I’ve heard rumours of schwag bags. And t-shirts!
Now it’s very late notice, I know, but I do wonder whether it might be worth some of us who tweet from Britain’s waterways – and care passionately about them – might not use the event to get together and talk about how we can use Twitter to grab the attention of those that be. They don’t seem to be able – or willing, sometimes – to engage boating communities, yet in general we all have the same interests. In theory, anyway!
Maybe that’s a bit too ambitious, with just one day’s notice! The reality is, I’d love to meet some of the ‘wags’ whose banter I enjoy on a daily basis. Tweetcamp might just give us the chance to do that.
As a member of the Dutch Barge Association, I was blissfully unaware of the fact that scandals were brewing. An email from the stand in chair – Penny Rickard – sent me investigating, I quote ”The resignation of the past Chair was sudden and unexpected. As a result, it is understandable that many of you have expressed concerns.”
I had no idea what she was on about!
It seems newer board members are mounting a putsch on the longer standing members.A quote from ex-Chairman, Andy Soper, in the K&A Times:
”During the meeting two proposals to change our Articles were tabled that would limit Directors’ terms of office to six years and thus remove half of the existing Board. These would have been passed if I had not stood down as Chairman and regained my Director’s vote” (The Chair has only a casting vote in the event of a tie.)
All of which makes me wonder what on Earth is going on. All I can say is that I wish they’d sort it out. The Waterways need some TLC and their administration is fragmented, expensive and inefficient. In fighting won’t help resolve that. Or the fact that I am very, very confused as I had what seemed to be confirmation – via the DBA – that we’d be in the Jubilee parade. Now I’m not so sure!
We only bought our boat last year, so we were well aware of the license changes as we trawled to see how much this exercise was going to cost us (and it was still more, but hopefully the big things are done now. Or is that tempting fate?) We’re licensed and legal!
But it seems that not everyone was well informed about these changes and for many, they’ve caused real hardship. One lady who lives on a boat for a lot of the time has taken money from a loan shark, which is worrying to neighbours moored near her, as well as for her.
The Environment Agency is trying to make its grant back up, so I don’t believe that it’s going to back down in any way over the charges, and we use the waterways, so we should expect to contribute. (Although it would be nice to understand where their money goes and see what other savings they could make as lock keep[ers seem to have been cut.)
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