Friday, 1 February 2013

CaRT or EA - Chicken or Egg

CaRT or EA - Chicken or Egg

By this time of the year, I would have expected to observe some significant improvement in the level of boats cruising the canals. Over the Easter holiday we were out for two weeks and saw very little in the way of boaters doing their thing. I know the weather has been less than welcoming, but would poor weather account for the almost total dearth of boats on the move?

I have a suspicion that its much more than the weather that has driven people away from the canals. The financial downturn will have also played a significant part. As will the Victor Meldrew - "I don't believe it" moments when another CaRT story comes out. However, I have this feeling that people are now anticipating the end of an era, brought about by the cutbacks in maintenance. As the canal infrastructure maintenance spirals ever downwards. Would you want to invest a significant amount of money in the purchase of a boat or even the cost of a boating holiday.

The boating public's confidence in BWB was at a low before the infrastructure changed hands. Many hoped that there would be a root and branch change to the management structure. However, confidence was given a knock when the old team were carried across. The level of disappointment amongst  boaters was palpable.

This started me thinking, there are some plans mooted to absorb parts of the Environment Agency into the Canal and River Trust. However, as the canal infrastructure continues under a plan of organised deterioration. Should the powers that be, be getting a nudge towards giving some thought to an alternative plan to absorb CaRT into the Environment Agency. Turning the situation on its head might provide a sensible solution. I'm of the opinion that the time has arrived to begin that debate.

It's another nine years before CaRT's  contract with the government comes up for a full review. I have a feeling that the review will come much sooner than that. Especially when the EA controlled infrastructure comes onto the table. More so if the CaRT controlled infrastructure continues deteriorate. Parts of the EA being subsumed into CaRT would be like taking a national treasure and passing it onto someone who will then slowly starve it of essential upkeep.

I feel frustrated by what's happening. At a time when Ash dieback is going to be as big a problem as Dutch Elm disease. CaRT want's us to give them £3 by telephone text to plant an Ash seedling.  Add to this boats full of trees and lock gate poetry. Voles and bats, tree planting and newts. All of which seem to have more standing than the raison d'etre which was the movement of boats. It appears that CaRT are determined to convert the canals into a some sort of wildlife park. Based upon a theme of natural decay towards rack and ruin.


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