Friday 19 December 2014

With Sufficient Force

There was back in my childhood a few old chestnut sayings involving a play on words such as when is a door not a door - when its ajar. (A Jar) But there are other more modern examples such as when is a charity not a charity when its a CaRT. 

If I consult a dictionary for a definition: - 'The voluntary giving of help, typically in the form of money, to those in need. Noun: charity; plural noun: charities. An organisation set up to provide help and raise money for those in need. Synonyms: Not-for-profit organisation, voluntary organisation, charitable institution. Viewed collectively as the object of fund raising or of donations.'

If you asked the average person in the street to describe a charity - they would probably conjurer up examples like Childline, OxFam or Cancer Research. That's because we all believe that charities are just that - charitable institutions with altruistic intentions to provide timely help to the needy. Now, it seems to me that what I would describe as a 'charitable institution' compared to the Canal and River Trust, are in reality an oxymoron.  No two ways about it, this government did not agree to let the old British Waterways enter the third sector for altruistic reasons. It was because it wanted the responsibility of a quango black hole, off its books. 

Now CaRT has been granted the use of a public begging bowl, but so far it has failed to make any worthwhile use of it. The street chugging quickly turned once more into a financial flop.  Grand claims for thousands and thousands of 'friends' all contributing has also become yet another millstone and once again another soft target that they are unable to achieve. 

At the same time - a ready made financial stream one that would also boost the number of 'friends' in the form of a paid membership of the trust, is studiously ignored. The problem here for the trust is that the membership just might want to question in detail, some off the more surprising results. In the once promised new era of openness and transparency the door remains tightly shut and the drawbridge of accountability at Ivory Towers remains raised for the foreseeable future.

Its at this point where any comparisons with a charitable altruistic service to the public stops. It now becomes a bit more like a rail franchise and one that's come off the rails. CaRT gets a handout from government (public subsidy) and makes a few noises and at best a feeble attempt to live up to the governments expectations. At the recent get together with the 'All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Waterways.' The collective amnesia displayed over the effectiveness of the Waterways Partnership itself beggars belief.

Grandiose claims made made for the 'Waterways Partnerships'. (CaRT and its predecessor were always good value for money in the art of making grandiose claims) Waterways Partnerships who were going to be self funding by the end of this year. (Pigs will fly) Moving out of the red column and into the black.  (Porcine avionics allowing) Not only that but the partnerships are supposed to be pulling in millions of pounds of revenue or its equivalent from sources within their operational area.  

I have a layman's question - if this regional methodology of raising funding through the use of partnership groups is such a good idea. - Why do you suppose the other one and a half million other charitable institutions failed to catch on?
I have another layman's question - Hanging on to the coat tail of big business has also not been a big success story for CaRT - The liaison and dalliance it had with the Co-op Bank (tainted by the antics of its chairman) has also left the carcase of another grandiose idea, to be quietly ferment. - Why do you suppose the other one and a half million other charitable institutions failed to catch on to what the Co-op Bank had to offer?

Well as the metaphorical porcine pilots forming a disorderly queue for take off.  As my old science teacher would have said 'With sufficient force, boy! Even a pig would be able to fly.' One of the principals of flight is that its a good idea to also have a plan for landing. But you know, I know, everyone knows, its going to end in tears. Accompanied by rounds of finger pointing and the anointed few absolving themselves once again from any semblance of blame. Another good intention that will be thrown onto the ever growing pile of festering carcases of each previous grandiose idea.

So its no change then - its more of the same old - same old. But as you know, where possible I like to end on a positive note. As more of the old guard quietly disappear, leaving not a ripple to mark their passing. We can only hope that the fresh blood in the Trustees will bring about some worthwhile change. - The first one I would like to suggest, would be to point the current chairman of trustees in the direction of the exit doors. I bet there would be very little if anything by way of a ripple, be it water or applause.

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