THE meeting launching Canal & River Trust (CART) was held in the glass fronted hall of the Holiday Inn at Camden Town overlooking the Regents Canal and Hampstead Road Locks.
The photograph shows the tug Weaver manoeuvring a large barge with demolition waste from the famous MTV studios just below the lock which are being refurbished and extended. I do not suppose anyone in the meeting took much notice, writes Del Brenner.
No mention of boating
I do not suppose the subject of using the waterways for freight transport was very high on the agenda for the great CART meeting, and I would be surprised if it got a mention at all. Overhearing the Minister Caroline Spelman being interviewed earlier, she commented on wildlife, the environment of the canals and rivers, as well as recreation and cycling, but there was no mention of boating, let alone freight use.
If she had stayed another few minutes she may have espied the barge entering the lock that she was standing beside.
Only about towpaths
You do not often see the local canal management actually on the canalside, but they were out in force today at Camden Town, and in an interview with the local press one of the managers talked only about towpaths and cycling, yet there was a huge barge behind them that went unnoticed until I pointed it out.
On finance, the journalist was told that the new charity would get financial assistance from a number of sources, for instance from Transport for London who had been very supportive by pouring millions into London's canals over the past few years. They did not mention that every penny of that was for, you have guessed, cycling—until I pointed it out.
Disgraceful at managing canals
I was asked what I had to say about today's launch, to which I replied that I was very happily celebrating the demise of British Waterways which had been disgraceful at managing our canals and had proved to be a seriously failed organisation. I will raise a glass to that later. I added that I wished the new organisation well although I had serious doubts about how it would proceed successfully seeing that the previous administration was transferred to become the ‘management' of the Canal & River Trust. I do not suppose any of that will get printed and spoil this auspicious day.
Now that the Canal & River Trust has been launched today, tomorrow is Day One—Friday 13th.
(Del Brenner is Secretary of the Regents Network and a member of the London Waterways Commission.)