Thursday 4 October 2012

Unseemly Haste

My "friends" at CART have been in touch.

"As a result of the recent breach we’ve had to close a 12-mile stretch to navigation while we carry out the massive repairs necessary to secure the canal. Canal breaches are exceptionally rare, although they are extremely expensive to fix and the repair bill for the damage on the Trent and Mersey Canal is estimated at £1.5 million."
Canal breaches are apparently according to CART very rare - so why have they had two within  a short distance of each other and at almost the same time. 
"It's going to cost £1.5 million to fix the Trent and Mersey. As a subscriber to Boaters' Update we thought you'd be concerned to hear that it's the equivalent of a third of our dredging budget or the installation of 30 new sets of lock gates. So please spread the word about this appeal as much as possible."

Now, they don't say it will take one third out of our dredging budget or that thirty lock gates will not be fitted - they only said it's the equivalent to that amount. So, is it me or do CART seem to be in an unseemly haste to bring out the begging bowl. However, this time it's not for a "friendly" three pounds. Oh no, bigger fish to fry this time. All they want is a paltry one and a half million pounds. You know, the sort of sum that would make a dream win on the Lotto come true. The sort of sum that's been set aside for individual CART pensions.

But did they forget to say that they have a "CART contingency fund for just this kind of problem." Because if CART don't have such a fund - I have to ask why not!

But how did CART get into this position of needing to launch such an urgent public appeal for the money. Maybe it was something to do with the fat cat pay and conditions culture rather than a care and maintenance ethos. Or maybe this is an indication of the poor quality of the senior managers who's eye was on the bonus payments, as witnessed by their lack of awareness of the condition of this section of inland waterway. Or maybe it's both!

Boaters have been complaining for a long time about the gradual deterioration of the inland waterways infrastructure. That not one but two huge breaches of a single canal has occurred is a dire reminder of how well the past maintenance has been carried out.

CART apparently do not have a proactive attitude to preventative maintenance. They can only react to major engineering failures whenever a situation such as the two recent breaches should occur.  Any engineer will tell you that proactive maintenance is a much cheaper option in the long run than waiting for something to break. Especially when the break can have such catastrophic results. 

Would you change the cam belt on your car engine before it breaks at proactive service intervals or be reactive and change the belt after it breaks and trashes the engine!
Now you could take the car metaphor a bit further. You can protect your car against major costs if it does breakdown. It's called breakdown insurance. CART must have insurance for such risks on the canals - don't they? 

You also pay for a road fund licence for your car which goes towards paying for road maintenance in the form of grants to councils or the highways agency. I pay for a licence for my boat - so what's that money used for?

You can hire a lot of staff to monitor and rectify problems for one and a half million pounds. But in a short term cash saving regime like CART where the staff are made redundant. The staff savings are then shown on the balance sheet and can be used to justify another fat cat round of bonus payments. The additional cost of poor maintenance somehow never gets itemised on the balance sheet.

I have created a poll that will run between now and the 1st of January 2013. It's not very scientific. Its a simple question "Will CART Succeed". You have three choices Yes, Unsure and No. Now you can vote for one of the three choices. If you change your mind before the poll closing date. You can come back and change your vote. (I wish we could do that for politicians) You will find the poll option on the right hand side just below the members pictures.


1 comment:

  1. I have to say that I agree with you on the subject of CaRTs maintenance planning.

    I fear that the bonuses based on short term profits are pushing the management to cut costs and corners.

    I also fear the inequality on the board that IWA have is not going to help JoBoater.


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