Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Waterways Partnerships

OK I admit it - I don't understand what the role of the Waterway Partnerships actually is. But then I am not alone because, I know that lots of other boaters are also puzzled. I am also sure from reading various partnership meetings notes - neither do the Waterway Partnerships. 

The Waterway Partnerships have a lot of history already and its helps to know some of it. There was a lot of froth and kite flying by the ex-CEO of the trust. With the usual grandiose claims for a bright future for the free of government inland waterways. To put this in perspective the fledgling trust had to go back and ask for more. The figures did not stack up.  This certainly gave a heads up on how well things were progressing. There was much trumpet blowing with a lack of any real substance. 

How I remember those prophetic words uttered at the APPG meeting. Words that have now come back to haunt CaRT. 
'The Waterway Partnerships future funding aims must be to develop self sufficiency through a combination of funding through Local Authorities, LEPs and the business community and other bodies.'
As expected, following up on the light frothing, the back pedalling and then Olympic standard kite flying. The now ex CEO Robin Evans gave an example to the APPG of the level of income he expected the Waterway Partnerships to bring in. Saying that if 50% of Partnership members brought in £80,000 each, that would be a good result. 

Has there been any 'value' returned in the last three years from the millions of pounds that have been spent on supporting the Waterway Partnerships. NO! Has there been any sign of the promised millions pouring in. NO! However, there has actually been a steady haemorrhage of CaRT's much needed funds into the Waterway Partnerships. The whole ethos behind the Waterway Partnerships being turned completely on its head.
Has their been any tangible return on the ongoing investment. - Investments into the talk shops that have either lost their way or were never able to read and understand the map in the first place. For me its a simple issue with a very easy test that can be applied. Have the Waterway Partnerships delivered in the last three years, on any part of their remit.  NO!

Are there any clear objectives set, with a built in criteria to measure success or failure of the Waterway Partnerships. NO!
Whilst the APPG recognised and approved of Robin's kite flying ambition. The APPG could see though all the froth and said at the time that it believes it is premature to expect Waterway Partnerships to be achieving these figures. However,they should still aim to be self-funded by the end of the 2014.
Are the Waterway Partnerships self funding yet. NO! Do the Waterway Partnerships look like being self funded anytime soon. NO!

Is there any likelihood that the Waterway Partnerships could ever be self funding within the foreseeable future. Well measuring their past performance against the APPG's less than onerous criteria, which was set to reach break even by the end of last year. NO!

Have there been any Waterway Partnership successes. There has been a lot of froth created by people who did not understand the role or chose to veer away in a different direction. So if you measure sucess in froth - its been a world class exemplar. 

So has there been any worthwhile fund raising for the trust, NO! 

So the question is simple - do we need the Waterway Partnerships. 

If the answer is yes (though a reason other than face saving, escapes me) then CaRT should  just continue to throw our money into the seemingly bottomless pit. In other words - business as usual.

If the answer is no (not in their current failed state) Then the make up of the Waterway Partnerships and a common set of operational aims, targets and performance indicators should be set. Waterway Partnerships and their performance should be reviewed before any further operational involvement continues.

If Waterway Partnerships cannot meet those simple start up criteria, then is there any viable way forward for the future. NO!

A review, from the ground up is one way but it will also require the operational structure reviewing from the top down.  Here we are three years in and the Waterway Partnerships seemingly still don't even understand their role.

The usual mission creep in the form of deliberate dumbing down has already set in and the initial targets are now being quietly forgotten. I know and so does everyone else - that in a face saving, knee jerk reaction. The usual CaRT  solution of avoiding the issue has set in.

The direction for the Waterway Partnerships has been laid. The iceberg has been in sight for some time. It seems that there is no one at the helm with the intestinal fortitude to give the command to change course.

After all - its only our money!

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