Friday, 18 October 2013

Thinking Out Of The Box (7)

Thinking out of the box (also thinking out side of the box, thinking beyond the box or thinking the unthinkable) is a metaphor that means to think differently, unconventionally, or from a new perspective. The cliché, has become widely used and refers to novel or creative thinking. Thinking out of the box, is forcing yourself to give considerations to options that you might discount in the first place. To think outside the box is to look farther and to try not thinking of the obvious things, but to try thinking beyond them.

CaRT anticipates that the total incoming resources for the full 12 months 2013/14 will be £158m. Legal director Nigel Johnson has admitted in his statement to the high court that the annual costs of maintaining the inland waterways is £130 million a year. Yet the reality is that the Trust have been spending under than that amount. CaRT spent just £80m on its waterways last year and is expected to reduce that to only £75m this year. The shortfall figure is round about £50 million for last year and is estimated to be about £55 million this year.

Thinking the unthinkable about the long term future of the CaRT managed waterways. The question on some peoples mind is 'Is CaRT viable or heading for meltdown?'

It would appear that there is a prospect of a crisis occurring.  The underspend year on year is just pushing the backlog of maintenance into a deeper and deeper financial black hole. 

The signs are already looking a bit ominous. Lock gate requirement on a 25 year replacement schedule will soon outstrip even production of the gates. With current upgrades to lock gates at less than 50 a year. 

Vince Moran recently said: 'In short, over the last 10 years we have not been able to spend as much as we would have liked on some of the things which boaters take most notice of because we have had to focus maintenance expenditure on the highest risk parts of the network—those reservoirs, embankments, etc. There are 10,000 of them and their condition is graded from A to E (where A is the best condition and E is where there is a very real risk that the asset is close to failure). 10 years ago, as much as about 30% of Principal Structures were in the worst two grades (D and E) compared to now where the proportion is about 16%.'

While on first sight the above reduction sound's to be pretty good. That's a total of 3000 structures in the D and E band ten years ago. But that still totals 1500 plus that were in the DE grade ten years ago that are still in the same group ten years later. With the systematic under funding over the last ten years. Those 1500 outstanding items could have been eradicated. With the bulge in the number of gates requiring replacement. It's not going to be long before the brown stuff starts to hit the fan. How big is the accumulated underspend, estimates suggest that it could currently be as big as £750 million and growing.

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