Friday, 16 December 2011

Who will you vote for?

This posing may seem like déjà vu however I have made sufficient change to the content of the posting to reflect the ever changing position. BW once more has not filled itself in glory by confusing everyone about the number that are supposed to be provided for the nominations. I still do not have a definitive answer yet. So at this time of confusion it could be your boat index number, your boat licence number, your BW customer number.

There are at the time of writing two and possibly three potential candidates for the elected positions as Boat Owners representatives on the CaRT council. The individuals are also members of the  CanalWorld Discussion Forum. There may be others standing for election as the time to vote draws ever closer. As a boat owner I will get to vote for one or possibly more. (the voting process is not clear at this time) As an occasional user of CWDF I am looking on the forum to find a candidate that I can ask the occasional questions of and to be able to request the occasional clarification.

Using a modern communication medium such as the CanalWorld forum should be good for the election of a boater to the council process. The problem I find is that other peoples vitriolic opinion are colouring what those trying to stand for election are fighting to say. So I have just the one caveat. There are some people on CWDF who can be very disruptive and very in your face. I suggest you have a handy sack of salt and a large spoon available when reading postings on the CanalWorld forum from individuals who are not standing in the election.

Of the two people I know for certain who are standing each has their own boating blog. I expect that a great deal of additional information on the knowledge and aspirations of the individuals can be gleaned from there. I would suggest the those standing with a blog can use their blog to convince, cajole and win over opinion to aid their election. The school playground bun fight that is the CanalWorld forum is not the place to do your hustings.

I would prefer to elect this type of proactive candidate, rather than say - a member of the old boys network - put up by a waterways user group. The old boys will be someone who I don't know and therefore can't easily ask a question. As the election to the CaRT council requires only a 150 word Boaters Manifesto address to be provided. I would have little information within that document to build my judgement upon.

I don't know about you but I would would not be able to choose anyone based solely on a published 150 word statement. The position on council is a much more important role than can ever be described in a 150 word puff piece.

I have certain criteria that I would want my elected representative to uphold. That would be total transparency and a feedback mechanism, say in the form of the occasional communication published on-line. What I don't expect is a personal one-to-one service. Because the candidate has a life outside of CaRT to lead. The person elected to council will not be paid a wage or fee. They will get nothing other than out of pocket expenses.

Getting the right people in place is going to be very important. It is also very important for those individuals we elect to know that they have the backing and trust of a good number of boat owners. I don't want a "tub thumper" who as “issues” to settle with BW or the fledgling CaRT. At the same time I don't want my representative to be a "yes man" or "yes woman" for that matter. It will be interesting to see the gender balance in the make-up of the CaRT council.

There are a well known set of problems on our canals and rivers that need urgent attention. Such as poor maintenance and the ever present financial issues. The situation on both of the issues has stagnated over the last few years. There is a deep mistrust in the management skill set of the existing board of BW. The new CaRT council will have to address these issues as a matter of urgency. The old ways will have to under go significant change.

Some individuals within BW management structure will be "surplus to requirements" within CaRT. In a recent Poll on NarrowboatWorld asking if Evans, Hales and company should remain in office when BW becomes Canal & River Trust which ran for just 2 days. Out of a total of 3825 votes cast. 3742 votes (97.8%) said No. Only 83 votes (2.2%) said Yes.

We need someone who has a depth of knowledge of the Inland Waterways to bring to the table. Preferably someone who has some experience (track record) of working as part of a management committee function. Someone who is both articulate and hard working. However, we all have to start somewhere and the experience has to be gained at some point. I am sure that the first year or so will be quite a daunting period for anyone.

Looking at the wider picture the four elected representatives will need to be able to work as a team within a team. There will be no room for working in isolation. They will all have to build a quick rapport and provide mutual support to each other. Their first allegiance will be to the boat owners (their electorate) their second allegiance will be to ensure as far as practicable that the Boaters representatives have a collective voice within CaRT.

This is going to be a two way street. Because at the same time, we will all need to be supportive of our elected representative(s). There will be time when they will want the wise council of others on issues that they may not fully understand. If the people elected as our representatives are to be able to function effectively – they will need our support and our backing all the way. There is an old saying – “without fear or favour” that’s exactly what I will be looking for in the person(s) I vote for, as a representative to CaRT of the Inland Waterways boat owners.

The boaters manifesto is worth a read.

Andy Tidy who is one such volunteer to council has written his first posting (on his personal boating blog) on the subject. You will find it here.

Alan Fincher is a second volunteer to council. Alan also has a personal boating blog which you will find just here. Alan has also prepared his 150 word election manifesto which I reprint below.

"Just four elected council positions must represent the disparate needs of all boaters. I am independent, love boats and boating, and am already well networked with many boaters countrywide. My first boats were forty years ago, and I now boat at every opportunity, covering large distances and regularly attend boating events. 
Although deeply protective of the history and heritage of the waterways, I am fully realistic that people own boats for many reasons, often with very different ideas of what is important. Categorising boaters into particular groupings is unhelpful and divisive, and I would aim to fairly represent everybody whatever their reasons for boat ownership.
In my role within a large multinational I was particularly recognised as someone able to broker the best solutions to complex problems that had eluded others. Early retirement allows me to commit the necessary time, and to be easily contacted by those I represent."


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