It was interesting to join in the discussions with Richard Parry (chief exec of CRT)at the seminar at Crick show. He is quite different from his predecessor Robin Evans. Far less aloof, very good at remembering people’s names and keen to listen. I did however find the session rather disturbing. Why? Because you couldn’t help feeling that he was disappointed with the attitudes of a lot of boaters.
That’s not to say he doesn’t value the contribution we make, and appreciate that we put a lot in to the waterways. He did say that he would be loathe to increase licence fees beyond inflation in future. But you could sense his frustration at the way boaters can’t agree with each other on policies such as mooring. One lot says there are too many moored boats along the way, and another lot says they resent being “forced” into marinas by towpath mooring restrictions. People send in complaints about other people hogging visitor moorings and others send in photographs of them lying empty. etc etc. I think he is also disappointed about a general air of negativity towards the Trust by some sections of the boating faternity.
Sadly I think we do little to help in this. A lot of boaters are pretty anti authority, and many of them say they moved onto the waterways to get away from rules and regulations and big brother. I don’t entirely agree. Some of the rules are there to protect the considerate from the selfish, and the polite from the belligerent. I see that now CRT is to propose a sort of code of behaviour for mooring which is all about being considerate to other boaters and which they say could lead on to a more general Boating Code. Personally I see nothing wrong with this, but I can already imagine the comments in the letters pages and the forums, one lot saying there should be more enforcement, the other lot complaining about being told what to do.
I used to have a boss who would say “Don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions.” He was right I think. You could hardly blame Richard if he got fed up with a group of people who just complain about each other and ask him to sort out their differences.
One last thought, I reckon 90% of the problem lies with overcrowding. Too many boats sharing the water. If anyone has the answer to that one, then we’ve got it cracked.