Sunday, 7 July 2013

Waterway Partnerships

The inland waterways have thirteen Waterway Partnerships in all. Most of these seem to reflect geographic waterway admin boundaries. But there are also partnerships dedicated to the waterways museums and attractions and one partnership specifically for Wales.

I have been having an arms length look at my local waterways partnership. Mainly by trawling through the notes of the meetings that have been published so far. The first thing that strikes me is the use of what I would call the 'Regeneration grant application language' Now if you want to communicate with Jill and Joe Public as walkers, boaters, anglers or whatever their interest might be that draws them to the waterways. Then the material provided has to be much produced in a much more friendly, readable and understandable style. Notes of meetings can be quite dry and formal. Maybe a separate on-line newsletter on a quarterly basis from each partnership might go some way to help.

Waterway partnerships are locally focussed and advisory with little, if any influence. Their primary role seems to be as fund raisers and for floating ideas. There seems to be little consultation with waterways users in the traditional sense of open meetings. I have the feeling that they will be a short lived abnormality. This is because I can't see where the partnership element comes from, other than as a good sounding part of their name. Partnership suggests sharing an idea and being able to influence and guide.

The second item is the make-up of the partnership group. If the meetings notes are anything to go by. I have not been able to find a full list of names with their profiles interests and expertise. Now, I would be the first to say that finding a good blend within the working group is going to be a difficulty. It requires people with a broad range of enthusiasm, skills and waterways knowledge to bring to the table. I have winkled out some of the available profiles for the members. To be honest I can't say that I detect a real inspiring balance of 'movers and shakers'. But we will have to wait and see.

Looking at the minutes of the meetings, I did a quick check of the attendance figures. I identified some 20 individuals and I discounted a further 4 because their actual involvement within the group was not clear. I did a pragmatic view in three ways. Listing good attendance, bad attendance and those that can't be bothered to even send their apologies. Though I would expect a good attendance from CaRT personal as they unlike volunteers will be paid to attend.

Of the minuted eight meetings three of the delegates have attended all eight meetings. A further seven have done quite well and attended seven meetings. One delegate has managed to attended six meetings. It then rapidly goes down to 5,4,4,3,3,2,2,2 and one has attended just the one meeting. Now I accept that there are many valid reasons for people not to be able to attend. However, many of the non attendees did not even send their apologies. Now, call me old and cynical, but picking up a phone to pass on your apologies is not too much to expect.

As for content and scoping there has been a slow but steady improvement as the meetings have progressed. However, if some of the members are not turning up - them maybe some fresh blood is called for. In a way its a something of a malaise and self fulfilling desire to fail if new blood is not brought in.

Here is a list of the partnerships - you will find one covers a waterway near you. They seem to be very variable from good to indifferent. 

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