Friday, 17 April 2015

Busting the Myth

Could the trust ever be in a position to take over the running of the EA waterways.

Busting the Myth
Before that could even be contemplated, the Trust is first of all going to have to demonstrate the ability to be totally self funding within the next decade. The CaRT flagship the 'Waterways Partnerships' currently can't even self fund themselves, never mind raise revenue. The trust has been back ignobly once already to government, cap in hand like a latter day David Copperfield, to beg for more. Its also going to have to improve on its lack lustre public relations. But more than anything else CaRT is going to have to overcome its greatest fear. CaRT is going to have to be open, transparent and officers are going to have to be accountable. The lack of accountability and the secracy is the lifeline that the Trustees will never let go.  The only way that the trust can ensure that accountability is to through a membership structure. Which the trustees will accept, only when hell freezes over or the taxi arrives for Hales and he finally goes.

The first major stumbling block would be the flood defence maintenance. Think about the flooding disaster on the Somerset levels and the flash flooding that is happening in our towns and cities. Which as a result of climate change is occurring ever more frequently. Remember the Thames flooding and the prominence on the news around the world. I can't see the public ever wanting to be in a position where flood defence building and maintenance could be placed in the same sort of level of risk that CaRT's maintenance has been allowed to descended into. With the accumulation of a half a billion shortfall over the last decade or so.

Taking over the Thames.
Thames organisations have already expressed serious concerns about the long-term plan. Pointing out the Elephant in the room. Which is the difference between running a leisure canal and a major waterway like the Thames. Richard Parry said: “We would want to work with organisations and individuals on the river. There will be plenty of time to talk, plenty of opportunities for their involvement.” If this is the same sort of opportunity, consultation, engagement and involvement that has characterised the trusts work so far. Especially with regards to maintenance, licensing and a myriad other issues on the canals. Those on the Thames should have real concern to be worried about any possibility of a take over happening.

The second major stumbling block. Richard Parry said that 'CaRT had access to sources of income denied the EA as a Government agency.' He gave two shining examples. The first is 'outside funding' this is the chugged up group of friends, which as a funding stream will always be variable and subject to the will of the giving public. It only requires one good public relations cock-up - which the trust is more than adept at – which could put the kibosh on that route.

His second example is grants from other trusts and charities. This is donations such as those from SUSTRANS. Which is currently converting the towpath into a high speed cycling velodrome and time trial venue. It only requires one fatality caused through high speed cycling and the whole charade will come tumbling down. How is this to be addressed – by educating cyclist. Can you smell the bacon? That's porcine avionics being roasted on a spit, over a sudden case of spontaneous trouser combustion.

Running fast to stand still.
The third major stumbling block is that the budget for the EA is fixed annually with the so-called Grant-in-Aid which has recently been subjected to being reduced year on year. There is not even a dim prospect within the next decade of that situation ever being turned around. Just imagine if the trust was successful and was able to raise some money – what is there to stop the government of the day from reducing the Grant-in-Aid even further. 

Smell the coffee, that's to go with the bacon sandwiches.

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