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Navigating and living on the waterways of Great Britain & Ireland and news of canal developments.
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TOPIC: Environment Agency Thames Navigation Users Forum October 2020

Environment Agency Thames Navigation Users Forum October 2020 20 Oct 2020 21:45 #119142

  • Andy Soper
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Environment Agency (EA) Thames Navigation User Forum (TNUF)

I joined a phone conference of the EA's TNUF today (EA don't have video conferencing across all divisions yet). Issues affecting barging are reported below. The advantage of this basic format forced EA to circulate papers and supporting slides before the meeting – and they held back from reading the slides using the time better although as the meeting was only 2 hours against a typical face to face of 4 hours there still wasn't much time for question or comment from the users. I have attached the relevant slides.

Navigation Verbal Update ( By joint harbour-masters Maria Herlihy and Mark Hill)
A handful of volunteers (only 2 locks out of 14 planned) returned to the lock-side (due to opposition from staff) and they are now planning a proper return in March 2021 in time for Easter.
A wreck removal plan is being developed for 2021
Channel signage is accepted as poor and planned to be refurbished

District Enforcement (Dyl Kurpil – MD DE)
Successful company for EA contract to manage short stay moorings along the Thames.
Short presentation - business model still seems based on penalty mooring charges for over staying rather than managing short stay moorings.
Visibility of terms and signs still awaited – EA and DE being very coy and signs expected. Introduction 2 November 2020.

Finance
Already predicting an overspend of 0.5M due to COVID issues. Registration income was budgeted to rise by 0.5M but EA could offer no reason except optimism. It has plateaued nearly £1M below last year (and no-one else will be registering their boats this year!). Another gap in the balance sheet.

National Navigation Issues (by Sam Holland Senior Adviser)
Business case made for £200m funding in next 5 year spending review. £170m capital and £30m revenue. Thames share likely to be about 50%.
Charging review delayed by COVID and unexpected legal issues to 2021 with a public consultation in the Spring.
There are no plans to harmonise registration years or ancillary charges across EA regions.

Enforcement (Colin Chiverton)
Now led by Colin as the lead enforcement manager for EA South East and some Navigation staff transferred. Emphasised the intelligence led approach, rather than proper patrolling, and embarrassed when I pointed out that the Gov.UK site specifically discourages intelligence from users – unlike waste management and fishing. Confirmed that the few outstanding court cases are unlikely to reach court and they are not trying to start any more - an avoiders charter!

Winter Work (Peter Collins)
Public power unreliability recognised and get well programme on the way.
Issue 3 of the lock stoppages out shortly. Days lock will be open for a seasonal window and Cookham will not now start until January 2021.

As ever – happy to field questions and comments.

Andy

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Best Wishes
Andy Soper
DBA Director Representation and Treasurer
mv Neeltje
Coookham
0044 (0) 303 666 0636

You don't need a barge to join - a dream of boating in Europe will do'. See www.barges.org
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