ENews No 5

NEWSLETTER NO. 5

Welcome to this latest edition of the Trust's Newsletter. With apologies for issuing it so soon after No.4, but when you read the first article below I hope you will understand why…

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A POTENTIAL THREAT TO OUR TRIP BOAT OPERATIONS

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Ken Burgin, Vice Chairman of the Cotswold Canals Trust, reports the following:-

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency is trying to introduce mandatory regulations requiring all non-pleasure boats (but including trip boats) to have a certified Boatmaster at all times. The full regulations can be viewed at:

http://www.mcga.gov.uk/c4mca/mcga-guidance-regulation/mcga-consultations/mcga-current_consultations/ds-ssb-bmlconsultation2-2.htm

As is admitted in the documentation, the motivation for these regulations has little to do with past problems and it seems to be justified on a combination of EU requirements and a feeling that more regulation is no bad thing.

The target of the regulation is commercial boat activities but in spite of pleas to exempt voluntary organisations from its remit, these are explicitly stated as being subject to these regulations (and the implications simply ignored).

Under the proposed regulations, Inglesham and Perseverance would require someone on board with a Boatmaster's Certificate at all times. The MCA documents suggest that the cost of qualifying a new master to meet these proposed regulations would be about £4,585. If each trip boat needs 4 Boatmasters for their rota cover, this amounts to nearly £20,000 per boat. There is a possibility that the MCA may accept some IWA/WRG run qualification as an alternative but this is only under consideration and not guaranteed.

Problems also occur with volunteers working to restore our canals where small tugs and other craft will be subject to these regulations which could effectively prevent their use even though there are usually no other boats operating in the same place. Again, and as far as I am aware, there have been no accidents warranting such regulations.

The solution to this is for the MCA to either exclude the charity/voluntary sector or accept the EU position and take craft of 24m (the EU lower size limit) or less right out of the equation. The MCA are not content with the EU exemption below 24m and want to impose their regulations right down to zero size. The MCA argue that "our Steering Group (which is made up largely of operators, navigation authorities and unions)" wants this; most of their steering group will regard the voluntary/charity sector as a nuisance at best or competition at worst.

The only way to fight this is for objectors to send as many emails as possible into the MCA so they cannot continue to ignore the issue arguing that most of their consultees agree with them.

If you share these concerns please send an email to: boatmastersstds@mcga.gov.uk   objecting that the regulations are unwarranted and unnecessary and could destroy long established voluntary sector boating activities. Please do this as soon as possible and certainly by the 4th July deadline and encourage others (particularly other Canal Trusts if you have contacts there) to do the same. PLEASE DO NOT JUST CUT AND PASTE THIS NOTE TO THE MCA – USE YOUR OWN WORDS WHERE POSSIBLE!

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SAUL CANAL FESTIVAL: SOME FACTS 'N' FIGURES

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The current bookings position is as follows:-

228 Boats 354 Campsites & 142 Traders places booked.

Some music tickets are still available but do hurry as they are selling fast.

We are still recruiting Support Staff Volunteers. Ice Cream Sales persons in particular are being sought!

The Festival has a need for a small electric refrigerator. Do you have an old one in your garage that would still keep the milk fresh?

If so please call Festival Director Clive Field on 07798 551288

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FORTHCOMING ROADSHOW ACTIVITIES

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August Bank Holiday weekend – IWA National at Beale Park, Reading

September 10th [Sunday] – Frampton Country Fayre

Both of these events are vitally important to the Trust, and Volunteers will be sought to help – details to follow in due course. Meanwhile, please put these dates in your diary!