Following received from EA Thames re imminent upgrades to lock operating systems at Bell Weir and Romney locks.
”With regard to the lock control system difficulties we have been experiencing at Romney and Bell Weir Locks, unfortunately it has not been possible to implement a simple repair to the existing systems at these locks. We have therefore decided to progress the installation of an upgraded system; providing river users with a more reliable service and enabling our staff to adjust the settings, if required, at any time in the future. This new system mirrors upgrades that we have already installed at other locks along the River Thames.
It is anticipated that the upgrade works at Bell Weir Lock will start on 19 March 2019 and at Romney Lock on 26 March 2019. The works at both sites are expected to last 5 working days. Bell Weir Lock is already on hand wind only and Romney Lock will be on hand wind whilst the works there are being carried out. We are making every effort to ensure Bell Weir Lock is single staffed from now until the works are completed and similar for Romney Lock during the works period.
We apologise for any inconvenience these faults may have caused and thank you for your patience while we are upgrading the systems.”
The EA have terminated the trial arrangements for Thames 24 Hour Visitor Moorings pending a decision on future arrangements.
They are in the process of removing existing signage and we understood would be replacing with the historical EA 24 Hour Moorings signs. However, although we are aware that existing signage has been removed at a number of locations no replacements have been installed so there are no instructions to boaters.
The TMBA, along with other river user representatives are continuing to monitor the situation and make representations to the EA regarding this regrettable development.
The official notification from the Environment Agency can be read HERE
The TMBA were invited to present a paper to a meeting of the Thames All Party Parliamentary Group on 14th November 2018. The topic of the meeting was Thames funding issues. The TMBA paper addressed the issues from a boaters perspective and others from the EA, local authorities and marine trade also contributed papers.
Regrettably, the meeting was not well attended, possibly due to the comings and goings relating to Brexit discussions, but the papers have been circulated to interested MPs and it is hoped may have some value in raising awareness of the ongoing issues.
The TMBA paper can be read HERE
The EA have published the result of their Charges Consultation for 2019 and 2020 and have confirmed that they will impose the proposed 5.7% increase on Thames charges for 2019 and again in 2020.
The full consultation outcome document can be downloaded HERE
Thames boaters have fared rather better than Anglian waterways and River Medway boaters who are facing hikes of 7% and 10% respectively.
Regrettably, these increases will do little more than add some sticking plaster to the severe gap in funding – suggested to be £15 million per annum – arising from the governments austerity program and reductions in grant in aid funding for the waterways.
Whither does salvation lie? Only three options seem to present themselves:
1. Government recognises the public benefit of the waterways and provides a more appropriate level of funding.
2. Government pursues changes in current legislation to give EA greater freedom to pursue new income streams.
3. Government decide to press on with transferring the EA managed waterways to the Canal and River Trust which will also likely require further funding and revised legislation.
Note that all 3 options require government support and intervention.
In the meantime, all boaters can expect is continuing rises in charges and further reductions in services.
We have received interim information from the EA confirming that they received a total of 441 responses to the recent charges consultation of which just 159 were from Thames based users. Given that there are over 8,000 registered powered craft on the non tidal Thames this is disappointing. The total responses are barely 50% of the number received for the previous consultation last year when there were 870 responses nationally. Thames only figures are not available.
The EA expect to be able to communicate the outcome and confirm new charges for 2019 during week commencing November 5th 2018.