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PETERBOROUGH BRANCH

HEREWARD WINTER 2010

www.iwapeterborough.org.uk The IWA charity registered number 212342 The views expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the Inland Waterways Association or of the Peterborough Branch. They are, however, published as being of interest to our members and readers


CHAIRMAN’S LETTER Dear All, Those of you who have been following the seemingly interminable saga that is the Welches Dam story could be forgiven for thinking that it has all gone a bit quiet of late. Following the EA’s disgraceful and reprehensible failure to repair the Lock and their eventual admission that they had no intention of ever doing so, we had to consider the best course of action. The committee drafted a resolution to the Trustees, subsequently endorsed at Region, requesting the IWA take professional legal advice with regard to forcing the EA to reopen this statutory navigation. I am delighted to be able to report that at the recent Trustees meeting I was able to convince Navcomm to put our resolution to the Trustees, where after some discussion it was passed and Head Office was instructed to set the wheels in motion. It was agreed that the EA CANNOT be allowed to just close navigation in this high handed, arrogant and unaccountable manner! The National Chairman gave a presentation on BW’s plans to move into the ‘3rd Sector’ and become a charity. Subsequent to the meeting the Government confirmed that this will happen. However a large hole was blown in the original idea when it was confirmed that although it remains the intention to include the EA, so far absolutely nothing has been done by DEFRA in the way of legislation to enable it actually to be done! Another superb example of joined up thinking. There remains a vast amount of work to be done to ensure that what we end up with is what we want and not just BW under another name, but even less accountability to us the users, BMW’s all round, financed by massive increases in boat licences whilst legions of cyclists, tree huggers, walkers etc continue to enjoy free access. As to what will happen to EA, if anything, watch this space. At regional level Chelmsford Branch felt that they would be better served by being in the London Region, and so duly left us and went off to ‘The Smoke’. Our Social season has recommenced, see your Hereward for details. Upcoming is the Xmas Social, the highlight of the social calendar. After some discussion with people at the last meeting we have decided to make a few changes in the format, in the hope that it might be an enjoyable fun filled evening of jollity! This year the idea is to bring a plate! You each bring some food, a mixture of sweet/ savoury type party food, mince pies and so forth. Saves us having to sell tickets and cater for ever changing numbers. We will organise games and fun, yes that does mean pass the parcel! See you there, Bah Humbug

Alastair Chambers

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OLD BEDFORD AND OLD BEDFORD SLUICE CRUISE

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s you will know from previous editions of Hereward the branch had for some time planned to organise a cruise through the Old Bedford Sluice, along the Old Bedford to Welches Dam lock and return during the period 17th to 20th September. In the event this cruise did not take place for reasons that it is right that we explain. At the Regional Navigation Group meeting held on 1st September, Irven Forbes announced that savage cuts had been made to the finances of the navigation department in the Agency’s Anglia Region. These included a reduction of 45% in the Capital Budget which had started the financial year at £2.7m. and now stands at £1.5m. Despite these cuts he took the position that as the Agency had agreed to the proposed cruise many months before it would stand by the agreement reached and allow the cruise to continue. To make a successful cruise it is necessary for 4 elements to be in place, namely, 1. the approach channel to the Sluice must be of sufficient depth to allow craft to pass 2. the Sluice must be operable 3. the depth of the channel in the Old Bedford itself must be adequate 4. weed growth in the channel of the Old Bedford must be under control The normal state of the route is such that it is not passable to craft. It needs a special effort by Agency staff to put it into a useable state for a few days after which it reverts to its original state. That is why it has always been necessary to agree a short window with the Agency and for its staff then to seek to facilitate navigation during that window. The primary elements which have required attention have been the dredging out of the approach channel and the dredging of key spots in the Old Bedford itself. The fact that the former of these is necessary is linked to the siltation of the Tidal Ouse and the virtual impossibility of making a level between the Tidal Ouse and the Old Bedford while the bed levels of the Ouse are at their present high level. All of this is a reflection on the normal maintenance standards which have been prevalent in this area. It is essentially the same problem as has been demonstrated in relation to Welches Dam lock [see the article elsewhere in this issue]. We were told that the special measures necessary to open up the route for the planned 4-day period would cost up to £20,000. We had to weigh this expenditure against the benefits to be derived. We have adequately demonstrated in the past that for one reason or another even after special Agency works the route is virtually impassable. Indeed in official IWA cruises in the period 2005 – 2009 inclusive we only succeeded in achieving a passage by one craft through the Sluice, along the Old Bedford to Welches Dam and return in all that time. That craft was a small shallow draught trailed boat; normal draught narrowboats have not so far succeeded. It seemed to us that given the cost and the fact that we have over the years adequately logged the defects in this route little if anything new would be achieved by the expenditure and that it would be to the general good if we did not for this year proceed with the cruise. That was the decision we communicated to the Agency. 2

Nigel Long


TRAGEDY AT WELCHES DAM LOCK

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hen last I reported on the situation at Welches Dam lock the Environment Agency Navigation department was again about to refer its plans for repair of the lock to the Agency’s internal Business committee for permission to proceed. All that changed at the meeting of the Welches Dam sub-committee held on 27th August when we were told that the plans had not after all been referred to that committee but that a decision had been taken within the Agency not to proceed with any repairs. This was confirmed at the meeting of the Regional Navigation Group held on 1st September when Irven Forbes distributed a note which set out the Agency position. I will summarise what it said and comment as I go. 1. The Agency did not have any specific legal obligations to maintain the lock under the AWA Act 1977. [The IWA does not accept this assessment of the legal position] 2. The estimated cost of repair was of the order of £372k - £502k which could not be afforded from the Anglian capital budget. [As we have not been shown any Agency plan for repair we cannot comment on the figures but they are clearly more expensive than the plans of the IWA first put forward in January 2008, plans which would have involved the provision of voluntary work via WRG. The Agency figures need to be tested. Sometime ago the Agency commissioned Halcrow to produce a report on the future of the lock. The report was dated May 2007 and suggested that repair would cost £660,000. This was a figure which the IWA challenged at the time; given the Agency’s own latest reduced figures, how right we were to do so!] 3. The cost of improving the intervening channel between Horseway and Welches Dam locks would be large. [This ignores the fact that the IWA has never asked for any more in relation to the channel than the reinstatement of the previous regime under which the channel was filled with water on a number of pre-determined weekends per year.] 4. Usage of the lock was low. [Given the lack of maintenance of this route under the Agency stewardship this is hardly surprising. The Agency ignores the fact that a well-maintained route breeds its own success] I quote verbatim the final paragraph: “With the above points in mind it is the Agency’s view that, at this time, the benefits of repairing the lock do not justify the level of expenditure required (£372K- £502K). This does not mean that we do not have the ambition to improve this system and work to increase its use. There are 3 longer term (15-20 year) strategies that could have implications to the future of navigation on this system (Fens Waterways Link, Tidal Great Ouse Siltation Strategy, Cranbrook / Old Bedford/ Counterdrain Flood Storage Plan). Our intention is to input into these strategies and look for opportunities to improve the whole system strategically in the longer term”. As to this final paragraph, the first sentence is an expression of the classic formula of navigation authorities of old i.e. fail to maintain a route adequately, watch usage de3


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cline as a result and when the route finally becomes blocked claim that the large sum which by then would be required to put the problem right could not be justified given the limited use. We had thought that we had got away from navigation authorities that thought that way – but apparently the Agency still finds this acceptable. Given that the Agency could deploy such an argument anywhere on its estate which stretch of waterway will be the next for this treatment? The remainder of the paragraph is waffle and fools nobody. You will have noted that there is no guarantee for the route in the short or long term. There are merely aspirations (hopes) which mean nothing. I may hope that the Fen Waterways Link will be completed in the next 5 years but I know that it will not happen. So where are we? Welches Dam lock was closed in the spring of 2006 and a steel barrier created on the Old Bedford side of that lock. After pressure from the IWA the Agency commissioned Halcrow to produce its report in May 2007. The IWA did not accept either the state of the lock as set out in that report or the projected cost of repair and employed its own consultant engineers to come up with an alternative proposal. This proposal was submitted to the Agency in January 2008 and provided for the building and installation of new lock gates by an organisation with a proven track record and for additional work to be carried out on a voluntary basis by WRG. It took the Cont’d on page 7............................. 4


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Cont’d from page 4............... Agency all year to reject that proposal. It finally did so in December 2008 on the basis that it would not approve WRG to work on the lock. It was only in February 2009 that the Agency indicated that it would produce its own plan for repair, but not until the spring of 2010. We have never seen that plan and as we now know it is not in any event to be implemented. We have been waiting for the Agency to take effective action on the ground. It has in 4 ½ year achieved nothing: yet it has refused help offered by the IWA. Its attitude appears to be that if it cannot do the work it will not let anyone else do it. We can all speculate about the reasons for the Agency taking that position given that the official Agency policy is supposed to be to encourage volunteer work on its waterways. What the Agency has allowed to happen at Welches Dam is a tragedy; through lack of action over many years it has allowed a statutory navigation to close with no provision for repair. The River Nene has a significant anniversary in 2011 which the Agency is only too anxious to celebrate. By contrast the 260th anniversary of the legislation which created navigation commissioners for the Welches Dam route, commissioners who were the direct ancestors of the Agency, falls in 2013. Will the Agency be anxious to celebrate that anniversary? I think not. A wake would be more appropriate, for it is on the Agency’s watch that a statutory navigation which is over 250 years old has been allowed to close. The Agency should be hanging its head in shame. Meanwhile IWA HQ is, as you would expect, taking legal advice.

Nigel Long

Mill Drove, Ramsey Cambs. PE26 2RD Tel: 01487 813621 billfenmarina@tiscali.co.uk www.billfenmarina.com

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EDITOR’S NOTES

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y the time you read this edition winter will be virtually upon us and those of us with boats will be taking steps to protect our craft against the ravages of the weather. Not content with having hiked up the price of the diesel most of us use, the bureaucrats in Europe have now legislated that from 1 January 2011 the use of gasoil with a sulphur content above 10ppm will be a criminal offence. The fuel industry has the option to supply low-sulphur road diesel incorporating red dye but this will contain 7% bio-fuel and may prove problematic with some, particularly older, engine installations and increase the risk of biological contamination or diesel bug growing in fuel tanks. This is particularly a risk where fuel is stored in fuel tanks for long periods, say over the winter period when boats are little used. The British Marine Federation has been lobbying strongly and has obtained indications that a minimum of 75% of gas oil supplied to distributors would have no added bio-diesel content and if this can be turned into a binding undertaking this would be a great result for the industry. My marina at Crick has already advised that their fuel supply will continue to be free of bio-fuel and the advice to boaters is to enquire from their normal source of supply what the make-up of their fuel is. If a fuel with bio-diesel content is the only option the use of a conditioning additive is recommended or alternatively fill the tank little and often to ensure a good turn-over of fuel and minimise the risk of problems.

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CAMBRIDGE BRANCH MEETINGS Members of Peterborough Branch may wish to attend meetings of our neighbouring Cambridge Branch. All will be made welcome. The programme for 2011 is given below.

Thursday 24 February 2011: Speaker to be announced.

Thursday 24 March 2011: Branch AGM followed by a speaker from the EA on the latest information regarding navigation matters in the area.

Sunday 1 May 2011: Annual Gathering of Boats at Reach Lode, a mini rally, lunchtime barbecue and quiz. Members come by boat or car and bring their own selection of food and drink. Boats start arriving on the Saturday and there is often a meal booked in a local pub on the Saturday evening. The historical Reach Fair is held on the Bank Holiday Monday. Meetings are held at Milton Community Centre, Coles Road, Milton, Cambridge, CB24 6BL 10


EA NEWS & UPDATE highlighted by Sue Cant

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s you will be aware, the Coalition Government has announced that British Waterways is to be replaced with a new charitable body. The Waterways Minister, Richard Benyon MP, has explained that the move will 'give users of the waterways a greater say in their future management and help to ensure they remain part of our natural and cultural heritage, of value to society and the economy’. Future funding for the new body should come from a combination of a guaranteed, long-term Government contract, commercial income and growing charitable receipts from donations and legacies. We have been working closely with British Waterways and Defra for some months now to determine whether Environment Agency navigations should be transferred to the new body, proposed to be up and running by April 2012. An in-depth analysis of the structures that may need to be included and options for operating navigations independently of water and flood risk management are being investigated, before the Minister decides if the Government are minded that our waterways should come under the management of the new organisation. Richard Benyon MP stated at the AINA conference in November that he will make further announcement early in the New Year 2011. Whilst the type of body our Anglian Waterways will be managed by in the future is still undecided, one thing we can be certain of is continuing pressures on our budgets. With this in mind, income collected from boat licences is increasingly important as it is used to directly maintain and improve our waterways. This year we have issued 300 offence tickets, 40 warning letters and successfully prosecuted 6 cases where boat owners had failed to register their craft. We will continue to take enforcement action that will benefit the majority of boaters who always register their craft properly. As a reminder, all boats kept, let for hire or used on Environment Agency waterways, including the main river, private moorings, marinas and backwaters, must be registered. Registration discs must be displayed on craft so that they are clearly visible and it is the owners responsibility to inform us in writing of a change in ownership of the boat – until this is done they remain the legal owner and responsible for registering it. The civil engineering works at Northampton Moorings are complete and the floating pontoons are all installed. The finer points of the contract for the construction of the facilities building are being worked through and construction will start soon. 720 marginal plants, including loosestrife, aquatic grass, sedge and iris, have been planted into specially created shelving around the perimeter of the marina. These will benefit wildlife and help to make the marina an attractive place to visit. Cont’d on page .14........................... 11


EASTERN REGION ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING Notice is hereby given that the Annual General Meeting of the Eastern Region of the Inland Waterways Association will be held on Wednesday 16th March 2011 at the Peterborough and District Indoor Bowls Centre, Burton Street, Peterborough at 7.30 p.m.

AGENDA 1. Apologies 2. Approval of the Minutes of the AGM held on 18th March 2010 3. Matters Arising from those Minutes 4. Chairman’s Report 5. Election of Committee Members (see notes below) Notes: [following the amendment of Region Byelaws which came into force on 14/3/09] The Chairman of the Region is elected in a separate ballot and the Chairmen of each of the branches within the Region are members of the Region committee ex officio. This is an election for the remaining members of the Region committee. There is no limit to the number of members of that committee The period of office of the following elected members of the committee comes to an end at the 2011 AGM namely, Derek Bradley and Roger Sexton. Both are eligible to stand for re-election. It is no longer necessary for those who wish to be elected to the committee to be nominated and seconded but all who wish to stand must agree to do so. Consents from members of the Region who wish to stand for election at the AGM 2011 must be deposited with the Region Secretary [Nigel Long 7 Georgian Court, Peterborough PE3 6AF or by email at nhlong@supanet.com] before the start of the Annual General Meeting

CONSENT FORM I agree to stand for election to the Eastern Region committee at the 2011 Annual General Meeting. I am a member of Eastern Region

(Sign) -----------------------------

Print Name ------------------------

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PETERBOROUGH BRANCH ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING Notice is hereby given that the Annual General Meeting of the Peterborough Branch of the Inland Waterways Association will be held on Wednesday 16th March 2011 at the Peterborough and District Indoor Bowls Centre, Burton Street, Peterborough at 7.30 p.m.

AGENDA 1. Apologies for Absence 2. Minutes of the Annual General Meeting 2010 3. Matters Arising from those Minutes 4. Chairman’s Report 5. Presentation and Adoption of the Branch Accounts for the year to 31/12/10 6. Election of Committee Members (see notes below) Notes: [following the amendment of Branch Byelaws dated 16/5/09] There is no longer any limit to the number of members of the committee Under the 3-year rule Philip Halstead and Roger Sexton will retire at the forthcoming AGM. Both are eligible for re-election. It is no longer necessary for those who wish to be elected to the committee to be nominated and seconded but all who wish to stand must agree to do so. Consents from members of the Branch who wish to stand for election at the AGM 2011 must be deposited with the Branch Secretary [Nigel Long 7 Georgian Court, Peterborough PE3 6AF or by email at nhlong@supanet.com] before the start of the Annual General Meeting.

CONSENT FORM I agree to stand for election to the Peterborough Branch committee at the 2011 Annual General Meeting. I am a member of Peterborough Branch.

(Sign) ------------

Print Name --------------

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Cont’d from page 11.......................... You can now enquire find out about the facilities the marina will provide online at www.visitnene.co.uk where you can also download prices, a plan of the moorings layout, and complete a moorings booking enquiry form. Updates and photographs of the moorings will appear on this website. This winter we aim to carry out full drain downs at Alwalton and Ditchford Locks and repairs at Upper Barnwell Lock. Time, weather, and budget permitting we may also carry out a full drain down at Lower Wellingborough Lock. The proposed closure schedule looks like this: Upper Barnwell Lock Alwalton Lock Ditchford Lock Lower Wellingborough Lock (provisional)

10 January 2011 – 23 January 2011 17 January 2011 – 20 February 2011 14 February 2011 – 20 March 2011 14 March 2011 – 17 April 2011

As always, the overlapping dates are to allow for poor weather and river conditions. We will do our best to keep stoppages to a minimum. Please remember that the above dates are provisional and subject to change. Our final closure notice will be published on our website a minimum of one month before the first closure. 14


Email: gregbassam@gbwatersports.co.uk 15


INLAND WATERWAYS ASSOCIATION Peterborough Branch

COMMITTEE MEMBERS CHAIRMAN: Alastair Chambers 52 Hereward Way, Deeping St James, Peterborough PE6 8QB Tel: 01778 344438 e-mail: alastair.boater@virgin.net DEPUTY CHAIRMAN & SALES OFFICER: Graham Baughn PO Box 15, 10 Marina Drive, March, Cambs PE15 0AU Tel: 07578-753558 e-mail: w.baughn@tesco.net SECRETARY: Nigel Long 7 Georgian Court, Peterborough PE3 6AF Tel: 01733 553782 e-mail: nhlong@supanet.com TREASURER: Michael Slaughter 45 Elstone, Orton Waterville, Peterborough PE2 5JZ Tel: 01733 390598 e-mail: m.slaughter45@ntlworld.com MEMBERSHIP SECRETARY: Carole Chambers 52 Hereward Way, Deeping St James, Peterborough PE6 8QB Tel: 01778 344438 e-mail: alastair.boater@virgin.net EDITOR: Philip Halstead, 20 Cane Avenue, Peterborough PE2 9QT Tel: 01733 348500 e-mail: pp@halstead5.orangehome.co.uk John Dudley, 1 Bellmans Road, Whittlesey, Peterborough PE7 1TY Tel: 01733 202581 Roger Mungham Boatmans Cottage, Workhouse Lane, Upwell, Wisbech PE14 9ET Tel: 01945 773002 e-mail: rogerboatmans@talktalk.net David Biggs, Evelines, 85 High Street, Chatteris PE16 6MP Tel: 01354 696956 e mail: evelines85@hotmail.co.uk Roger Sexton, 2 Shaw Drive, March, Cambridgeshire PE15 9TB Tel: 01354 652329 David Venn, Bruffs Lodge, High Street, Nordelph, Downham Market PE38 0BL Tel: 01366 324102 e-mail:davidgvenn@tiscali.co.uk Richard Fairman, The Old Railway House, Cowbit, Spalding, Lincs PE12 0XD Tel: 01406 380575

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Cruising the Old Bedford River

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arly in 2006 the Environment Agency drove interlocked piles round the entrance of Welches Dam lock near Purls Bridge. These piles remain in place preventing any passage through this lock, despite IWA‘s efforts. This means that if you want to cruise the Old Bedford in anything other than a small boat or dinghy you need to enter the river by the tidal sluice close to Salters Lode lock.

Entering the Old Bedford at Salters Lode

Elsewhere in this edition of Hereward you will read that IWA Peterborough branch had organised an official branch cruise through the Old Bedford Sluice and along the Old Bedford River but for the reasons stated this was called off as a token of support to the EA in the current

financial constraints they are facing. Entering the Old Bedford through the tidal sluice is not straightforward but boats have been using this route since 1637 and indeed Fox’s Hire fleet used it routinely in the past. In May 2009 the Parkers took their Welney Guillotine Gate cruiser, Marie II, along the Old Bedford all the way from Salters Lode up to Welches Dam and then a short stretch beyond. They managed to return without difficulty and they published an article in Hereward last year about this. In March this year I took my narrow boat through the sluice and managed to reach Welney Guillotine gate. This took an hour and a half each way. I had not planned to do this journey but it just happened that the river levels and conditions on either side of the tidal sluice were almost ideal. Hopefully one day this route will be restored to the levels of access formerly available.

John Revell 17


Profile for The Inland Waterways Association

Hereward Winter 2010  

The magazine of the Peterborough Branch of the Inland Waterways Association

Hereward Winter 2010  

The magazine of the Peterborough Branch of the Inland Waterways Association