Victor: That is how it was done

Published: Sunday, 15 October 2017

LOOKING back through narrowboatworld I see it was way back in 2004 that the then Chief Executive, Robin Evans, was set a target of doubling the yearly visitors to the waterways, against a baseline of 3.6 million.

However the following year, 2005,  the published figures showed the number lower at 2.7 millions visitors. The then British Waterways backtracked with a 2020 'vision' of 3.5 millions visitors a year.

And then came the Canal & River Trust. 'The Charity' as it so likes to call itself, with the need to impress its masters, the government, of what such a good job it was doing by attracting so many visitors to its lovely waterways, but alas 3,5 million, even thought 'stretched' somewhat from the actual 2.7 million, would hardly impress.

So the very clever idea was to change visitors to visits, that would straight away bump up the figure.  But just how many visits would a person make a year to admire its waterways? How about a 100 visits for everyone suggested one bright spark, which would make it a nice 350,000,000. Now that would impress. And it was thought that once a visitor had seen the delights of the waterway they would come again and again—at least an 100 times a year.

green3The small voice of reason at the back of the room pointed out that not many would visit the cold canals in winter and many towpaths out in the country are hardly used, but was of course ignored. We'll add another 50,000,000 suggested one—and add another 50,000,000 every year claimed another. With the extra making it 450,000,000 visits a year that is claimed today.

That little voice of reason pointed out at the last meeting that that equates to every single man, woman and child in the whole United Kingdom visiting Canal & River Trust waterways, not just once but five times a year.  He was of course ignored.

And so it came to pass.

Licensing consultation

I really have forgotten how many 'licensing consultations' there have been in the 20 odd years we have been boating, yet they all seem to end up with nothing changed.

So I expect no matter what boaters suggest, or even what the much loved third party consultation comes up with, little will change.

The things however that seem to be bothering boaters about licensing is continuous moorers and wide beam boats, and no doubt many will remark upon these in this boater consultation, but as to whether anything will be done is doubtful.

It is now obvious that many of the older generation is leaving the waterways due to the ever increasing costs against decreasing income. I now know of three couples who are finding it too expensive, with two of them packing it up this year.  But I expect some sort of reduction in costs would be open to abuse.

A new neighbour

From being the only boat on our jetty at Sawley, a new neighbour arrived last week to join us—from Mercia Marina!  And then I hear from the people that painted our boat that they know of others who have vacated Mercia too.

So from the mass exodus from our marina to Mercia when it first opened it seems it is now not so popular, as boaters are returning.

Perhaps the every increasing development, with now a three storey edifice going up, is making it too much of a visitor attraction for those who prefer a bit of peace and quiet.  That was the reason Jan wouldn't move as it was far too busy for her liking, though Thomas wanted to, though after his last visit he was tending to agree it was getting somewhat thronged.

So it's likely the 'peace' (notwithstanding the motorway and the airport) of Sawley is preferred, without its throngs.

Victor Swift.