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We recently received this email from our ‘illustrious leader’…

It’s what prompted us to build this site and our blog !
Our responses to Mr Parry’s ‘Corporate Claptrap’ are included in the text and highlighted.

Licence fee changes

I am writing to let you know about some changes to future boat licence pricing following a consultation with boaters.
### Another ‘consultation’ the outcome of which was a foregone conclusion from the start… (just like the previous ‘consultations’)

Alongside growth in income from other commercial and fundraising activity, the changes will help support the long-term future of the 2,000 miles of waterways that we manage across England & Wales.
### And in the midst of what is to quote the Prime Minister himself “a cost of living crisis” your changes will seriously impact a minority group of people many existing on pensions or very small incomes who, because of your previous 3 years of increased charges, are now facing a huge percentage increase in their ‘cost of living’ !

Boat licence fees will need to rise above the baseline inflation rate for each of the next five years.
### “Need” ? Why ? Perhaps it’s because boaters are the easiest target and hitting them with your increases will actually provide you with a significant crop of cash even though it hits hardest the group of low income liveaboards.

Can you actually justify increases above the baseline ?

Explain to us all in plain English, leaving out your usual claptrap and bullshit your reasons or shall we just continue to presume that it’s because of your intention to pursue a policy of ‘gentrification’ of the canals along with your incompetence in actually addressing the seriously pressing requirement for proper maintenance of the facilities and infrastructure from day one whilst you were spending millions instead on idiotic vanity projects like blue signs and ‘re-branding’ !

In addition, we are introducing a surcharge for boats that continuously cruise and increasing the surcharges for wide beam boats to reflect the greater utility they receive.
### Your idiotic plans and the reasons for introducing them have obviously been put together by someone who lives in a house and works in an office knowing little or nothing about the canals, boats or the community of boaters known as ‘continuous cruisers’ !

We are viewing it very much as nothing less than a direct targeted attack against us !

In the first place, most ‘continuous cruisers’ actually move less than let’s say timeshare boats, hire boats, and other boats with home moorings in marinas because all of these boats leave their home moorings and spend weeks, months and in many cases most of the year tearing around the system like lunatics on a mission to complete as many ‘rings’ as possible in as short a time as possible so that they can move onto the next destination.

A ‘continuous cruiser’ who is required to move every 14 days generally moves every 14 days, usually as far as the nearest services and water point (if they still exist and are not out of action due to a lack of maintenance) and after using the facilities moves a further short distance before tying up for another 14 days !

We’re not here for a jolly up, we’re at home and have no reason to move further, we like it here and want to stay not go charging around so that we can add yet another brass plaque to our hatch door. And wide beams, how on earth do you justify the “greater utility” tag you’re trying to hang onto them ? For a start they can’t access large sections of the network because they can’t even get onto all the narrow canals, so if anything they should be due a reduced fee which reflects their ability to only cruise the wide canals !

Frankly, this all just shows your utter incompetence and lack of understanding in this regard !

The above-inflation increases for all boat licence holders, and the new surcharges, will take effect from 1 April 2024. Details will be announced in November using the latest inflation forecasts.
### I’m sure they will if you have anything to do with it ! Please note, we have other ideas !

Our canals are facing some daunting challenges and, if we don’t act now, the future could look bleak.
### Yes they are, but those daunting challenges are mostly due to CRT’s limited action on maintenance for eleven years and just for the record, the future already looks very bleak from where I’m sitting, mostly due to mismanagement, idiotic policies and a complete lack of understanding of the issues facing your ‘customers’ by the ‘suits’ making the decisions !

The government recently announced significant cuts to public funding for the canals over the years ahead, whilst high inflation rates and the ageing infrastructure has seen the cost of caring for canals rise.
### We know all about that and you did too, from day one !

You knew when you took the job that the infrastructure was in a mess due to the government’s  previous lack of interest in the canals and BW’s own brand of stupidity and neglect but you keep on bleating about it as though it is a complete surprise to you ! 

That’s just ‘spin’, more CRT bullshit propaganda.

You knew perfectly well that the government funding was to be provided for a limited period of time but being convinced of your own superior abilities and having a list of schemes for fundraising and attracting donations from ‘friends’ and the general public you went ahead anyway, unfortunately you were able to convince a bunch of ‘sheeples’ and several canal societies into supporting you and even signing a ‘memorandum of understanding’.

We’re re-doubling our efforts to further grow volunteering and to raise increased funds across all our activities, from all our users and supporters, so we can deliver the additional ongoing investment that the network needs.
### So your answer is just for ‘more of the same’, and you think that’s going to work this time ?

The boat licence fee represents around 11% of income, going towards vital maintenance and repairs. Whilst the scale of the investment required is in no way to be borne by boaters alone, the increases from boat licences will make an important contribution.
### Yep, and I’m betting you’ll squander a large proportion of it on more blue signs and vanity projects just like you’ve been doing for the last 11 years ! So, I’d also like you to prove that it will be spent on “vital maintenance and repairs”.

Alongside the changes to boat licensing, we are continuing to grow income from our property and non-property endowment, and from other commercial sources such as hosting utilities and water transfer, which together contribute over 40% of our income.
### Yes, that’s really interesting and I have my own views on your ‘activities’ in respect of the sale of heritage sites and the like, such as your dealings with property development companies. Apparently it’s all ‘legal’ !

We are targeting a step-change in income generation from towpath users and other supporters, with fundraising income projected to grow by 10% each year – while other commercial waterways income, including from anglers, paddle sports and moorings, is also set to increase.
### Yeah, well we all know how accurate your ‘projections’ are and do you seriously expect us to believe that anglers, paddle boarders and dog walkers are going to contribute a significant amount of funding ? If they could you would have been charging them years ago, you’re only doing it now because you’re trying to grab every penny you can in complete desperation.

Boat use has changed over the years, with rising numbers of people choosing to continuously cruise, and to choose wider boats. Most boaters without home moorings spend more time on the waterway network, and make more use of facilities, than those with a home mooring. Wider boats take up more space on the water than their narrow beam counterparts. We believe that reflecting the utility people get from their use of the waterways network, and the cost of supporting different boat use, is the fairest way to decide licence pricing – as reflected in the responses from the recent boater consultation.
### Repetition of your lies and bullshit wont make them true you know. And stating the obvious to qualify it just shows your desperation. I’ve already covered the ‘more use of facilities’ statement you made earlier and how does taking up more space on the water really make any real difference ? Can you explain to me how a couple continuously cruising on a widebeam boat use “more of the facilities” than a couple living on a narrowboat ?

Perhaps you think wide beams cause more wear and tear to the water they float on than a narrow boat ? Seems to me you’re clutching at straws there a bit but if you really want to pursue this then the only fair way is to charge by displacement but your ‘suits’ don’t seem to have worked that out yet, perhaps because they don’t really give a toss about fairness.

The real fact of the matter about changing boat use over the years is the increased cost of housing and for people with minimal income ‘home moorings’ or a slot in a marina adds around £4,000 a year to their costs ! Money they can ill afford !

We also considered whether the various licence discounts currently offered are sustainable.
### They’re not being ‘sustained’, you’ve been reducing them for the past several years now and they’re already almost completely gone !

From 1 April 2024, there will be a reduction in the discounts for prompt payment and for paying online as this has become the standard method used by the vast majority of boaters.
### You expended rather a lot of energy promoting online payments and pushing for ‘prompt’ payment in full as I remember so is it really valid to now penalise us for doing as you requested ?

The electric boat, historic boat and charity boat discounts will be retained.
### Deep joy, whoop whoop, let the celebrations begin ! </sarcasm>

We will continue to control our costs as far as possible given external pressures, while focusing our resources on the priority maintenance and repairs that are required to support safe navigation, and we will continue to lobby the government to rethink their short-sighted decision on our future funding.
### If you had focused on priority maintenance and repairs in the first place things may have turned out very differently but instead you spent many years wasting funds on your self promotion and vanity re-branding in an attempt to distance yourselves from your responsibility as a Navigation Authority in favour of ‘moving the goalposts’ to become a ‘Wellbeing Charity’.

In doing so you have managed to make yourselves unaccountable and autocratic, you hide your unquantifiable ‘Wellbeing’  performance behind sham ‘consultations’ and ‘surveys’ full of loaded questions seeking only justification for your planned actions and policies with no real regard for public or boater opinions.

What you term a ‘short sighted decision’ by the government was always in the plan from day one, you just chose to ignore it and trying to ‘spin’ the truth of the matter now when you are in dire financial straits due to your own lack of foresight and misplaced self importance is just plain lies !

You and you alone are responsible for your failures !

We recognise that these changes to licence pricing will not be popular with everyone, but the income we receive from boat licences is more critical than ever. The cost of the licence has largely kept pace with inflation since Canal & River Trust was formed and now, together with increases in income from all possible sources, we must raise the resources needed to keep the network alive for future generations, averting a return to the decline of the mid-20th century when canals fell into disrepair in the face of insufficient funding.
### More bullshit and spin will not convince those who know the truth and who live daily with the results of your incompetence and ignorance.

The increased fees over the last few years and the increases and surcharges you now propose mean that my costs are rising at an unprecedented rate in the middle of a cost of living crisis whilst my pension is not.

With government attempting to do away with the triple lock I can only expect the difference between my income and my expenditure to widen so frankly, your proposals are doing nothing whatsoever to improve my ‘Wellbeing’.

So much for your ‘charitable works’ eh ?

The consultation report can be found here, alongside an equality impact assessment: National consultations. For more information on boat licensing, visit: Licence your boat.
### Well thanks for the links, I’m already well aware of the impact of your policies and actions towards the boatdwelling community and my boat is already licenced thank you very much.

Our ultimate aim is to secure the future of the network so that boaters, like yourself, can continue to enjoy, and benefit from, this precious national treasure.
### Bullshit !

You’re just a bunch of greedy wallet liners creaming as much cash out of the system as you can !

Richard Parry

(AKA Your old mate ‘Dick’)

Chief Executive
Canal & River Trust

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