Sunday, 8 March 2015

National Trust for the Inland Waterways

There used to be a series on television called 'The likely lads' which gave a light hearted look at life of two lads living in the north east. I suppose it was the male equivalent of the Liver-birds, where two young ladies presented a light hearted look at life in the north west. A few years after the Likely Lads series finished. The same couple 'Bob and Terry' were resurrected in a new series called 'Whatever happened to the likely lads.'

There are some parallels that can be drawn with the Canal and River Trust. Top billing was given to the creation of the 'National Trust for the Inland Waterways.' Now I suppose its time to ask whatever happened to the 'National Trust for the Inland Waterways.' The promised land, a bright new shiny future. Which was predicted and promoted as the future. However, there are not many parallels that can be drawn for CaRT when compared with the National Trust, which is a successful organisation led and promoted by the enthusiasm of its members.

The first major problem was that CaRT was created as a trust. Which unlike almost every other large charitable organisations. Was deliberately created without a membership. So rather than recruit the thousands of boaters, the trust went on a tangent to recruit people with little interest in the canals, to be found walking up and down the high street. The graffiti so to speak was on the wall. The Trust in its current guise as a non member organisation has proved to be, not fit for purpose. One which is long past its best before - sell by date.

So whatever did happen to the National Trust for the Inland Waterways?

The first wonderful idea (banana skin) was the transfer 'lock stock and barrel' of the old British Waterways management team. Under the guise of a supposed 'transitional team'. In place until the recruitment of a new team of talented individuals with experience of the charitable sector could be recruited. Now, unexpectedly who was it that was recruited. Well gosh, it was the old BW team, which was recruited. With a collective experience of the third sector that totalled a mind boggling zero, nada, zilch! The tarnish started to take hold of the family silver.

Then as the chuggers (Charitable Muggers) that had been employed by other charitable organisations, earned themselves a repugnant reputation with the public on the high street. CaRT bought into the wonderful idea (banana skin) and the much vaunted chuggers chugged the high streets on behalf of CaRT. The chugsters achieved the distinction of going bust! The trust was almost friendless and the family silver started to look more like pewter than silver.

Not to worry the Waterways Partnerships another wonderful idea (banana skin) would be the saviour of the fund raising activities. The Partnerships would take up the challenge and the role of fund raisers extraordinaire. Not only that, but they would start to raise up to £800,000 a year each, to replenish the trusts dwindling coffers. The first problem was that someone forgot to tell the partnerships what their role was. The running total after running costs is a magnificent and mind boggling zero, nada, zilch! Even the pewter started to tarnish faster than ever.

I could go on about the stunning way that the maintenance backlog has been cleared or the long list of investment success is coining dosh, like its growing on banana trees. Unfortunately there are zero, nada, zilch of note! I would love to wax lyrical about the remarkable about turn from the bad old days under British Waterways. Unfortunately whatever shine remained has long gone.

Under the chairmanship of Tony Hales the much vaunted and promised bright new world for the inland waterways. The National Treasure, of a 2200 mile linear waterpark has been a lack lustre flop of epic proportions. The family silver, what family silver?

So Tony, its on your watch, whatever did happen to the 'National Trust for the Inland Waterways'?

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