Friday, 27 June 2014

Boating Lottery

Is the day of the boat for hire coming to an end?

I ask this because almost on a daily basis, I read about one waterway or another being closed. We get the odd stoppage because the police request a closure for one reason or another. However, the majority seem to be as a result of CaRT's ongoing plan to save money by implementing a starvation plan that cuts to the bone the maintenance budget.

Time and again we hear of hire boats being trapped behind a stoppage.  Which must create a huge number of problems for any hire base. Never mind the holiday maker and their family. Imagine if you have paid out a significant amount of money to take your family away on holiday. Only to find the that what you might have planned to do is sunk by an avoidable stoppage which is due to ignored maintenance.

I wonder if any of the television 'rogue holiday' type programs would like to take up the plight of the holiday boater. Compare this with money spent on a package holiday. If you were to witness as many infrastructure problems as the Inland Waterways are subjected to. Your  holiday would be ruined and you would be wanting to claim a significant part of your money back. After all, CaRT would find it hard to defend the refund claim. Because year on year there has been a deliberate underspend on maintenance.

As CaRT are busy trying to attract the public to the rivers and canals. Those unknowing people seeing the boats and thinking to themselves I would like to do that as a holiday activity with my family.  This piss poor performance must be building up into another public relations disaster of epic proportions. 

So should CaRT be offering to pay hire boaters whose holidays are spoilt a refund?

As a boat owner, I want to enjoy the boating season by surprisingly doing some boating. I don't want my plans to be at the mercy of the vagaries of CaRT's cutbacks in spending. Today, I was talking to a boater who wanted to travel a significant part of the system. In his plans he had invested in a gold licence. However, he is now waiting for the upper Trent lock repair to be completed.  The ongoing delay will certainly be already starting to curtail some of his boating activities. 

My expectations are that there is a period in the year when the canals will be subjected to restrictions. Yet in the old day, no such maintenance period existed. A time when essential planned maintenance is carried out. However, due to the 30,000 plus known items in the maintenance backlog. We are playing the boating lottery. A lottery when we might want to go from A to B. But then we also have to play the lottery again because we also have an expectation that we can make the return trip from B to A! 

So the question is - should boat owners who get delayed by a stoppage in the boating season.  Be able to claim a rebate on part of our boat licence fee? After all, paying a refund might help CaRT to realise - boat owners are not a captive cash cow. The cash should flow in both directions. We pay for a service and CaRT rebate if they fail to provide. I am beginning to wonder, does CaRT really want boat owners as paying friends?

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