Saturday, 25 April 2015

NABO council meeting.

Saturday has been an interesting Saturday, as Saturdays go when you are retired. In fact it has been an amazing day out. I started early making our way down the A38 towards Birmingham. The Memsahib was visiting daughter Steph and I was attending a couple of boating related meetings. 

The first item for me was when I attended the NABO council meeting. I usually try and attend the AGM. Like most association members, I am guilty of leaving the governing council to get on with it.  So I tried to be discreet and watch from the back. However I was soon spotted and invited to join in. Which I admit I found to be quite enjoyable. Spent I some time listening and watching the team discuss the merits of various important issues that are confronting boaters. This confirmed what I had thought all along. NABO is the only boating association that can genuinely stand up and say it can represent all boaters. All on council were quite knowledgeable on the various issues and  the changes taking place.  

The second meeting for me was in the afternoon at The Bond in Digbeth. This was organised by CaRT. Intended as a presentation of CaRT's strategy and vision for the future. I like it when activists of whatever persuasion turn up to make a point. The meeting was picketed by the National Bargee Travellers Association. I was not put off by the picket and my thoughts were quite supportive. 

The facilitated meeting started with a presentation by Richard Parry.  I was also looking forward to seeing and hearing people ask searching questions. Questions that might make those within the trust feel uncomfortable. That expectation of a lively searching discussion was thwarted.

However, it seems that the NBTA were out in force not only with the intention to make a point, but with with the intention to dominate and disrupt the whole meeting. While I have a great deal of sympathy for the travelling community. Whether it be on land or water. The behaviour demonstrated was appalling. Such behaviour certainly brings no credit to the NBTA. However the behaviour  certainly highlights the need for boaters to make a careful choice when joining an association. 

There are difficult times ahead for all boaters and the inland waterways. The imposition of changes to licensing terms and conditions which are questionable. The wholesale and sweeping changes to visitor mooring time limits across the waterways. Are both symptomatic of a malaise within the trust. More than ever, I am convinced of the need for a single association that represents boaters and only boaters. One that represents boaters, with out any divisive demarcation lines between live aboard and leisure, constant cruiser, trading boat or home mooring based. But an association also needs to be truly and fully independent of the trust. Building an association that can work with the trust, but at arms length.  Representing boaters with the trust as an equal and without fear or favour.  NABO is certainly fulfilling my expectations.

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