Saturday, 18 July 2015

Rewriting History.

There is a saying to the victor goes the spoils, one of those spoils is the opportunity of rewriting history. This has not been lost on the Canal and River Trust, The Trustees have been having a little tinker with the long and illustrious history of the Canal and River Trust.

It was recently announced by CaRT that 'Tony Hales, chair of the Trust, will retire after the [next] Annual Public Meeting and meeting of the Council, on [the] 23 September. In line with our Articles of Association, [the] trustees duly elected the next chair from [amongst] their number, when they met earlier this week.'

Allan Leighton, chair of the Co-Operative Group and formerly CEO of ASDA Plc and chair of the Royal Mail, will formally take over as chair after the 23 September.  Allan joined the Board in September 2014.

This new chap, to be honest I don't have much knowledge of. However, I fully expect that he should have an easy time of it improving on what went before.  There is the huge funding black hole - (the huge elephant in the board room) that apparently no one can see. So what does Mr Leighton bring with him.  

Well ASDA is apparently going down the tubes. In January this year the latest chief executive of Asda, Andy Clarke, told staff in an email that the retailer is facing “even greater challenges than last year so we need to further change and adapt the way we work”.
So Allan Leighton should fit in well at the Trust. 

Then in the finest traditions, Lynne Berry, deputy chair and chair of the Appointments Committee did a bit of smoke and mirrors puffery and tried to polish the tarnish when she said.

Under the leadership of Tony so much has been achieved for the nation’s waterways.  He had the vision and passion to take the waterways out of state control in what was the largest ever transfer of state infrastructure into a charitable organisation. 

Now, call me old and cynical, but I seem to remember the history differently, BW being earmarked as one of the quangos destined for the governments bonfire.  It was expected that everything would transfer to the EA. Then in an 11th hour attempt to preserve the BW Bosses Pensions and Bonuses. It was decided to put the Quango out to tender.  First shot was massively under valued and when the dust settled the transition team had to go back cap in hand and ask the government for more.

“Since that remarkable achievement in 2012, he has set the path for a bright future for the waterways for generations to come.  On behalf of everyone who cares for the waterways I’d like to thank him for his tremendous leadership, personal commitment and unbridled enthusiasm.
Personally I would like to thank him for going. However, I note that its a pity that he did not go earlier. But, is this the same trust that could hardly raise a smile, never mind the millions of pounds that are required to plug the leaks. Who then spent a large amount of money employing a chugging company that then promptly went bust.  Is this the same trust that spends about 35% less on maintenance than it should be doing, just to stand still. Is this the same trust that came up with Waterways Partnerships that were going to be shovelling the money into CaRT's coffers - but has so far proved to be yet another funding black hole.  

“I am delighted to announce the appointment of Allan Leighton as the incoming chair. He takes on the role at such an exciting time as we look to build on the firm foundation that has been built under Tony’s chairmanship.  His vast experience and insight, combined with his belief in the importance of our canal system to public life, will give us further impetus as we continue to realise the potential of the Trust to transform places and enrich lives.”
There lies a little statement, as another poof of smoke curls up as more puffery is trotted out. The throw away line - enrich lives. I remember a poem competition organised by the Met Police. Police officers were asked to write a poem celebrating the wonderful diversity of our capital. The winning entrant will get to have ‘elevenses’ with the Met’s Head of Diversity, a nice lady called Denise Milani.

Enriching Our Lives.

Albanian gangsters, with rice flails and Uzis;
Ukrainian pimps, with high-cheekboned floozies;
Jamaicans with handguns, Somalis with knives;
just some of the people, enriching our lives.

Jew-hating Imams, from Rabat and Homs;
Stockpiling their basements, with ricin and bombs;
Rich Saudi princes, with cowering slaves;
Slovakian hooligans, Romanian knaves.

A fat lady from Lagos, looking quite glum;
With five kilos of gak, stashed away up her bum;
Levantine maniacs, beating up gays;
Young girls from Thailand, whose skills quite amaze.

Grim Kurdish separatists, from the shores of Lake Van;
Strange Russian men, with a nuclear tan;
From Romford to Ruislip, a myriad show;
Of cultural diversity, so mind how you go.

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