Victor: Pity your waterways

Published: Sunday, 22 October 2017

PITY your waterways indeed, for again Canal & River Trust is keeping up its policy of spending less on its winter maintenance of its ever failing waterways.

Yes my friends, the trend of spending less and less year upon year is continuing. It was less last year than the one before and for this winter it is another £7 millions less than last winter.  Just how far it is now in arrears is impossible to calculate with its ever fluctuating statistics, well over £100 millions that's for sure.

And whilst the important Leicester Section of the Grand Union Canal is now closed 'indefinitely', with quickly the Ashton Canal following suit, the now somewhat elusive Chief Executive, Richard Parry, would have us believe:

"Our historic waterways are still working as they were designed to 200 years ago thanks to the Canal & River Trust. We work year-round to keep them open and safe for everyone to enjoy."

Sorry dear Richard, but we cannot enjoy either the Leicester Section on the Ashton, you have closed them. 

Whetstone Lane Lock2Even when open

And to be perfectly honest we did not enjoy the Leicester Section when it was open. Stuck for three days whilst your 'team of skilled and passionate experts, from construction supervisors, civil engineers and volunteers, to heritage advisors and apprentices', took five days to insert two strips on Whetstone Lane Lock's bottom gates (and still leave the top gates leaking with the cill certainly in need of repair, as clearly shown), closing Foxton Flight for a week-end whilst your 'volunteers' mess about trying to get traditional boats and their butties up and down the flight to amuse visitors at a festival, then have to wait hours whilst two boats stuck in Birstall Lock are freed.

Oh yes, we were then told that the Soar was closed with red lights on from Barrow Deep Lock to Redhill, when they certainly were not.

One thing for sure, under no circumstances can anyone really believe 'Our historic waterways are still working as they were designed to 200 years ago thanks to the Canal & River Trust'. 

All can see that they certainly are not.

Rochdale again

And needless to say this week-end another major canal is closed again—the Rochdale due once more to a broken bridge, and again due to a broken part, that  needs replacing, as Grimshaw Lane Bridge broke on the 9th June 2014, then on the 24th May this year and now again this week-end.

I wonder if it is the same part?  Of course we are not told.

Where to go

Like ourselves, many boaters must be wondering which canals to risk for a cruise next year, we certainly are. Friends of ours always stick to the rivers such as the Thames, with it seems only floods to worry about.  But God help it if Cart ever gets its hands on it.

The only thing now is for fairly short cruises, giving yourselves plenty of time to wait for repairs to hopefully be carried out, as I have to admit some are done rather quickly which is a blessing. A pity though maintenance is not as it was during our first years of boating, when we did cruises on the Rochdale, the Leeds & Liverpool and even the Huddersfield Narrow, then down to London and back, across to the Bridgewater and East to Peterborough with ner a single hold-up for year after year.

What a difference now, thanks of course, to the machinations of Canal & River Trust. And I have to state it—that you definitely cannot trust.

Victor Swift