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chairman’s Comment ...on Project Plans and why they’re important, the demise of the WRG North West Paper Chase, fudge preparation, and a new arrival... Chairman’s comment Seeing as we tend to spend much of our time standing outside in the middle of nowhere gazing up at the sky and wondering what it’s about to do, safe in the knowledge that we can’t really affect it either way, I guess it seems rather foolish to spend this edition talking about planning. Especially given that, when we are not staring up at the sky, we are peering into muddy holes and muttering “I wasn’t expecting that”. However as everyone – from a first time volunteer through to the boss of the Health & Safety Executive – expects us to be well planned and prepared, I think it’s worth a page or so of talking about it. Somewhere on the spectrum of people mentioned above sit the trustees of Waterway Recovery Group’s parent body The Inland Waterways Association. Whether you think they sit closer to the ordinary volunteer or the HSE CEO rather depends on your point of view (but please remember that I and a few other WRG Board members are also IWA trustees these days!) I have mentioned the IWA’s annual objectives a few times recently, and this time I want to explain about a specific one that goes: “Ensure active projects have clear, well thought through project plans, thoroughly supported and understood by their governance structure [Project Owner: Mike Palmer]” So that’s the first thing to notice – yes, it’s my promise to deliver this on behalf of IWA. But hopefully that’s shouldn’t surprise you as mainly that seems to be all I’ve ever been banging on about. Sometimes under the heading of Health & Safety, sometimes just under the heading of “why, oh why, oh why…” And it’s not as though the Restoration sector is terrible at it. Every edition of Navvies usually has several Canal Camp reports detailing how things went very well, together with maybe an article from a local society about how, after months (years!) of careful thought and preparation they are ready to start on a long-held dream to culvert a river under their canal, carry a road over it, dig something up, re-water a section, etc. But throughout the sector these reputations for careful planning are, to be blunt, incredibly fragile. Just a couple of setbacks and suddenly a reputation built over many years is lost, seemingly forever. So I have no problem with continuing our emphasis on Project Planning. What exactly are we doing about this then? Well one part of the jigsaw is already completed and, inevitably, it relates to Health & Safety. A few months ago we published a video called Creating a Culture of Safety. Whilst it can (and should) be watched by anyone involved in restoration, one of the main target audiences was the high level management & trustees of restoration schemes. In particular it sought to make sure they gave the Project Planners enough support and resources to ensure that those clear, well thought through project plans we are all after come to fruition. For those who think that is a little too abstract and are after something more definite about project planning our next video will be called… um… err… Project Planning. Whilst it will cover what we (and HSE/funders/insurers/etc.) expect to be covered by a project plan the main purpose of this video is just to counter the common reasons why people put off writing one: I’m not the right person to write it; I’ll get it wrong and people will laugh at it; What’s the point?; I don’t have all the answers yet. That sort of thing. We will be canvassing both our leaders and locals about what they fear regarding project planning but if any of you readers out there have any contribution on this subject, be they personal experiences (good or bad) or just observations from other sectors of life

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Profile for The Inland Waterways Association

Navvies April - May 288  

Navvies April - May 288