Thursday, 22 December 2011

Aunt Sally!

The more I read about the sequel to BW, CaRT. The more I have come to realise that the changes to the Inland Waterways are going to need to be very profound. Few would or could make the argument that British Waterways and its board has on reflection done a good job. A passable job would require some very serious argument, but certainly not a good job. Some would argue that we have suffered a poor performance that could have been done much better. The problem is that we can all pontificate the issue from a position given to us by the clarity of 20:20 vision that comes with hindsight.

The top brass at British Waterways could have been better business orientated. They could equally have been better at planning and logistics.  The commercial decisions that they have made have sometimes been questionable and bordering on suicidal. The problem is that we can now all pontificate until the cows come home, each issue from a position given to us by the 20:20 vision of hindsight.

The terms and conditions, the perks of the boards employment, we all know could have paid for real business nounce. The problem was the Inland Waterways were placed in quango country. Successive Governments abrogated their responsibilities under various political ideals and mantras. Now that we are in a time of austerity, the failing quango must go. The problem is that we can now all pontificate the issues once again. But with a change of name, I don't expect much if any change from a position given to us by the 20:20 vision of hindsight of the outgoing BW setup.

We are here and now - there is a chance to make a real change in the future of the Inland Waterways. First we need to know what we have got, then we need to know how best to maintain it. Then we need to understand how to improve it. Then we need to know how to encourage people to use it. If people see the Inland Waterways as a cheap theme park attraction or somewhere to take the dog for a shit. It will remain in limbo. If the general public see the Inland Waterways as a National Water Park.  If the general public see the Inland Waterways for what it is, a very significant part of our heritage. Then possibly over time, we will see a positive change. Now would be the time to preparer the pigs for take-off.

The biggest problem of all is going to be - how do we fund it. For me its going to require a radical re-think. This is the real crux of the problem, the economics. The people who are going to be doing this rethink - are going to base their ideas on their previous knowledge and experience. We already know that the individuals from British Waterways have a poor track record. The board are easy targets and few people have any confidence in them. The lack of confidence in the old guard will continue to create discord, it will continue to be a distraction, it will continue to create divisions, it will continue to anger those who see the process as more of the same old gravy train. Its time for a top to bottom clear out, no lifeboats are fitted to this sinking ship.

We are back at the beginning of another cycle of boom and bust - austerity and affluence. The problem this time is that our austerity is going to be with us for a long time. The climb to affluence once more is going to be a very shallow one.

Whenever this country has been in austerity measures. We have succeeded in recovering over time and then going on to become quite affluent for a while. The country in austerity always needed new leadership to get us back on our collective feet. This was usually done by bringing a new government into power. The new incoming government would be driven by young people with ideas not coloured by the mistakes made in the past. Determined individuals who brought new ideals and sought to make positive change. The old government was seen as being long past its usefulness.

For once we can see the seriousness of our current situation, but this time from a position given to us by the 20:20 vision of foresight. In other words its time for a radical rethink, the future does not lie in the hands of the old guard.

I don't think we have amongst those round the pensions trough anyone with the courage to look at what they have achieved and put themselves to the sword. I'm sure that the new board of trustees will inherit, the lack of confidence we have in the old guard. It will continue to create discord and division. It will continue to be a distraction from the real issues. It will continue to anger those who see the process as more of the same old gravy train. It will continue to anger those who see the process as more of the same old, prevarication, silo mentality, hostility to the users and world class arse covering. We will have the same figures of derision in place and like the aunt sally, they will all remain a target for the foreseeable future.


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