10-year plan for Canal and River Trust

Maesbury Wharf on the Montgomery
Maesbury Wharf on the Montgomery
The Trust is aiming to improve its number of volunteers in its 10-year plan
The Trust is aiming to improve its number of volunteers in its 10-year plan

The Canal and River Trust has developed an ambitious ten-year plan to aim to ensure its canals remain popular places to visit and active in a thriving boating community.

Trustee of the Canal and River Trust, John Dowell, has highlighted numerous ambitions for the waterways over the next decade.

The targets include having up to 500m visits a year, 100 more than last year’s figure and developing a community where at least 85% of boaters and waterway related users are satisfied with the Trust’s service.

It also aims for the Trust to be a well-known charity with 75% of the population being aware of it, currently this only sits at 30%. Alongside this it hopes to be a better supported charity upping its number of donors from 18,500 to 100,000 in the next ten years.

“I don’t deny they are ambitious and it may not be achieved. The world will not fall apart if they are missed but isn’t it better to have targets than to not?

“The Trust should be a great place for volunteering in all aspects of the Trust’s work, contributing 1m hours of work a year – up from a little under 500,000 hours now.”

“We want to improve the future generations of waterways supports with about 1m children and young people each year engaged in volunteering, arts, education, sport and social action.”

This has been married with changes in the role of the area of waterway manager, with each waterway manager now having four new key staff.

A customer operations manager will deal with the day-to-day 'stuff' and the paid customer support team, while also organising the volunteers work. A volunteer development co-ordination will find and set up new volunteer groups, such as adoption schemes.

A development and engagement manager will increase contact with organisations and people new to the waterway, and there will also be a customer support co-ordinator.

Mr Dodwell added: “This all fits in with what Richard Parry has said about the structure change being the start of a journey – to unlock capacity to do more and to do it more efficiently, to change how things are done and to improve how the Trust interacts with customers and users.”

Net assets of the Trust are currently exceeding over 700m, with mainly the Endowment Fund which produces investment income.

Around 25% of the income comes from property rents, 19% from boats and 26% via the government – alongside £2.5m of donations.

This winter it is expecting to see 288 stoppages, more than last winter’s 170. Sixty stoppages will be on the Manchester and Pennies Waterways which accounts for around 20%, but by contrast there will only be six on each of the Kennet and Avon and in the London area.

With regards to dredging, Mr Dodwell says: “Every waterway is surveyed by the Trust staff for depth every eight years to see if it complies with a minimum operating channel. Complaints from users play a large part in dredging planning when specific dredging is planned, there are about 120 places in Manchester and the Pennies area which are known about as a result of reports from users.”

The trust now has a long-term contract with the dredging contractors to encourage them to bring in new equipment which has resulted in a joint investment in a site near Coventry.

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