Monday, 6 July 2015

Reporting Issues

Its not getting any better with CaRT's hand on the helm. By way of offering some corroboration of how bad thing are. On the 12th of June I reported an incident that we were caught up in, directly to the trust customer services department. If nothing else I usually (but not always) get an acknowledgement that way.
*'Dear Customer Services. On the Birmingham main line between the Netherton tunnel branch and the Gower branch. The canal narrows from the remains of an old toll gauging station. Whilst heading towards Birmingham we became stuck on something in the entry side of the right hand channel. It took us some time to get our boat clear of the obstruction. As it fouled both the propeller (which suffered damage) and the tiller. The left hand channel was clear and we were eventually able to pass through. Boaters should be made aware of the obstruction.'*
Today the 29th of June I finally had an acknowledgement to the report. 
*'Thank you for your email and apologies for the late reply. I'm very sorry to hear about what has happened. I have copied in the local waterway office to make them aware of this for you.'*
Now you might be like me and thinking a delay of 18 days is not really anywhere close to an acceptable time frame for an acknowledgement. Never mind a time frame for passing on the report. However, I have reported things in the past and never had any form of acknowledgement. So in cases where I do know that items have been reported - I still don't know if they are being passed on in the system.

On the 30th of June I had another email which said that the issue would now be passed on to Customer Services. Note: Not passed back to Customer Services but passed on to the place I sent it to in the first place. I wonder if this is the same Customer Services or maybe there are several CaRT Customer Services to choose from. 
*'Thank you for reporting this issue to the West Midlands office. I have passed your email to the customer service team so they can arrange for the obstruction to be removed as soon as possible. If you have any further concerns when using the West Midlands Canals please do not hesitate to contact this office.'*
On the 16th of June we were on the Birmingham and Worcester Canal. At bridge 86 we came across a fallen tree that almost blocked the canal. This was reported to CaRT straight away as a hazard to navigation. However, in all fairness its only been two weeks and counting, since I made the report.  Which is just as well, because we managed to squeeze past. 

I am still waiting for an acknowledgement. 

We now have new manager(s) in place to look at and organise communications. While I know that they have not been long in post. Its not rocket science and it is a fundamental requirement in any business today and a key part of the whole customer service ethos. In my old employment within a University. A request was made (either made in person, via email or telephone)  and a 'support ticket' was issued in seconds. The ticket would name who would be dealing with my request. 

But its not only CaRT with a poor maintenance record. On arrival at Worcester - we decided to stop for lunch on the visitor moorings. Which due to the warmth of the weather, we then decided to stay for the night. This is a pay and display moorings (pay in the nearby carpark) at a charge of £4 a night.

However, the moorings in places are in a very poor condition with heavy overgrowth of vegetation such as stinging nettle which is restricting access along the bank side and up the steps to the road above. There are also some large deep holes in the footpath which will require urgent repair. It is possible that a cyclist, walker or boater could either fall and break a leg or even stumble and fall into the river.
  Some of the holes go clear through the surface and the river can be clearly seen beneath. 

I reported the issues to Worcester Council by email - it will be interesting to see how long it takes for a reply. The reply came a shirt time later the same day. 'Thank you for contacting the Worcestershire Hub. Your enquiry will be assessed and responded to shortly. Your unique reference number relating to this request is xxx. 

Which started me thinking - why don't CaRT issue a report number to the customer. So that the customer, whoever they are, boater, walker, cyclist and fisherman can follow up on the issue. A simple phone call to Customer Services to enquire what the latest situation is on issue number xxx? 

Our summer cruise continues along the River Severn, we had just passed through Bevere Lock when we came across a sand and gravel boat called 'Perch' belonging to Thompson River Services. It was hauling another craft which seemed to be best described as a derelict boat.  Covered in black plastic sheets and tarpaulins.

A bit further along the River Severn we came across a place where the craft had possibly been removed from.  Various bits of detritus were scattered scattered around and some seemed to be being picked over already. There also seemed to be someone living rough in the trees.   

The other item of note was the number of abandoned and sunken or damaged boats we came across.  There are few moorings along this part of the river and the equivalent of - wild camping - seems to be being practised.

We arrived at Upton upon Severn moorings to find the tail end of a jazz festival. CaRT had suspended the 24 hour restricted mooring times for the week long festival. There was a buzz going round that one small cruiser had been turfed out of the local boat yard and was now moored up on the pontoon.  It seems that the owner was causing issues which had led to his expulsion and his dog had also somehow been drowned. The ins and outs of the situation were very vague. Later the boat left the mooring unnoticed.

We met up with a wonderful group of Australian boaters on a hire boat. However, these were well experienced boaters back in Australia. One owned a fleet of boats and had built and operated a spectacular river hotel boat of his own. As usual the Aussies immediately organised a barbecue. Which was good fun. We introduced them to the delights of Henderson's Yorkshire Relish which was added to mushy peas. 

I was regaled with a tale of what was described as 'Boating in Flinders'. My knowledge of the Flinders Range in South Australia is very scanty, from a visit many years ago. However the Flinders area is a ancient and unique part of the world, very rugged and very remote.  The Aussies took 18 months to build their boat and then went off to explore the Flinders coastal area. Basically it is living on a boat where your nearest neighbour is hundreds of miles away from your location.  Being self sufficient in obtaining food with various kinds of fish and oysters frequent items on the menu. There were tales of going to the rescue of a downed helicopter in the water. Fishing for tuna where the sharks would also have a nibble at the ones on the fishing hook. But there would be enough left on the hook to feed the family. Other more minor problems included salt water crocodiles and small snapping sharks. Plus storms of a kind we don't get in our coastal waters. I'm hoping that I have convinced them to write up their adventure.

Later we saw the police helicopter circling overhead, for about an hour. The fire service were zipping up and down the river in their emergency RIBs. At about 10:30pm the fire service group turned up towing a small plastic cruiser. Which was dumped onto the moorings. The boat had no mooring lines so we had to supply the fire service with some of our spares. It turned out to be the boat that had been thrown out of the boat yard earlier. There is something about bad pennies!

We decided to Diesel up at Upton Marina. The price was high (we paid more than double what we paid at the previous boatyard)  so we only part filled the tank with 57 litres, just below the half way point! A steady cruise along the River Severn and on to a partially tidal part but only during spring tides.  We were given a photocopy of a notice at Upper Lode Lock for how to approach the Gloucester Docks area which is the next point on our journey. Made our way as far as Ashleworth Court mooring which was in such a poor state of repair and in a dangerous condition. With perished and broken planking. So we retraced our steps back to Haw Bridge the only other viable mooring point in this section.

The River Severn is a couple of feet below normal. So water conservation was in full swing at Gloucester Dock Lock. We had to wait until there were enough boats (3) to pen down before we could be penned up.

The old Lightship that is 'Sula' is up for sale. The lightship was originally stationed off Spurn Head at the mouth of the Humber estuary. Decommissioned in 1985, she has served as the headquarters of a yacht club and as a complementary health care training centre.

We have just rescued a juvenile 'Gull' possibly a 'Lesser Black Backed' its hard to tell with the juveniles. The Herring Gulls round here were trying to kill it for food. So its now sat under the pram cover eating best minced steak. The Memsahib says we are only giving it a lift out of town before releasing it. So tell me, which one of us is most Gullible?

Don't answer that - I think I know the answer already! 


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