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.
We have started the countdown to our big pirate party boat treasure hunt in two weeks time, which Gill on Harlequin has organised. I’ll share some of that with you later.
In the meantime, we have another countdown: tomorrow is our tenth wedding anniversary, the anniversary of the dates on which we (separately) named our two children formally, and tomorrow we celebrate by renaming our boat.
Things won’t be quite as dramatic as expected: I had a painter booked and agreed, but my husband decided that he needed to be involved and we have no-one booked now – it’s a good job I love him! The boat’s nameplate is being re-engraved in the morning, and all being well there should be a special package arriving. The champagne is cooling in the fridge. The immediate family id invited.
We will have to remove all trace of her current name from her if we are not to have bad luck, apparently, to purge her name from ‘The Ledger of Deep’. And we will dename her first. We have heard of an East German superstition where the men aboard have to pee over the edge of the boat – but I’m not sure that I wasn’t having my leg pulled.
Anything lese we should be doing?
Oh dear: there’s trouble ahead and I wish I hadn’t gone along to the Tingdene Thames and Kennet meeting over the boat fees.
A contingent are claiming they didn’t know about the changes, and in fairness the whole consultation process was utterly flawed, so it was easy to miss people out. But they are now arguing that they should pay nothing, as they always have.
My own take is that those days are probably over, but that they should be able to ask for concessions if boats are off the river, and the whole ‘not paying part of year’ nonsense is outrageous by anyone’s standards. (If you buy a license in October, you still have to pay for a full year and renew in January.) There should be provision in the same ways as a SORN so that if boats can’t get out on the river/are mothballed, the fee doesn’t need paying.
But some people are spoiling for a fight, and I can’t put my name to it because of the tactics they want to use.
Let’s get out and run ‘poll tax’ type protests, they suggest. That worked. Mmmm. Two big issues with that. One, boaters are a small and insignificant group rather than an entire country. And two, we didn’t get a poll tax, sure. We got council tax instead.
They have a point, and I think they’re right, but I don’t think they’re thinking through what they’re doing.
The meeting ended in chaos, disarray and lots of bad feeling. Not very boaty at all!
Post round these ‘ere parts seems a little slow. The lock keeper let us through the other day, albeit grudgingly – it was pretty obvious we are legit, but things are clamping down big style.