Sunday, 22 January 2012

Musings on the Canal and River Trust Council "Boater" Elections

(posted by Alan)

Being an election candidate seems to have forced me into the modern world, and I now (kind of!) "do" Facebook, something I had not invested a lot of my time in until now.

In fact it has proved to be another good place to "meet" further boaters, and carry on some sometimes lively debate, not always on my own territory, (and not necessarily with a friendly greeting - although I have received friendly support most places!).

Anyway I now have my own fledgling Facebook group page, (an "open" group), in support of my candidacy.

I have just done a couple of postings there about current state of play in the elections, and also an issue that I have uncovered.  I'll repeat these here for those not comfortable in Facebook......

Knowledge of Other Candidates or Candidate Numbers
Unofficially, I have heard from two different sources that the number of candidates who will be competing for the 4 elected boater places on the CaRT council is about 40. I can't confirm that number, but it does not surprise me, as the only requirement to stand is to be a boat owner, and to find 10 other boat owners prepared to sponsor you.

It seems to me an odd election where the candidates may not only not know right up to the point polling commences anything about many of those they are competing against, but also not even how many there will be. In many cases only when I see the 150 word personal statements of other candidates will I know anything about them, (and even then perhaps not a lot). That point is not officially reached, say BW, until just before voting commences.

So far I am only aware of....

4 candidates supported by the IWA, all of them leading players within that organisation.
(One of these is also jointly supported by RBOA)
1 candidate supported by NABO, again a leading player in that organisation.
1 candidate supported by the Historic Narrow Boat Owners Club, (I am told, but I have not seen in the public domain).
6 candidates not openly supported by an association or club, as far as I can see, (including myself).
(I also believe one candidate has now withdrawn.)

Those last 6 are broadly "independent" I would say, although I would judge at least one to have an agenda that is very much based on the needs of only part of the boating community generally.

So maybe there are another 28 or so candidates that we may,or may not learn anything about much before polling commences. Unless you know of these people personally, or by personal recommendation, I rather think that will not now change.

There does seem to be a general lack of knowledge amongst many boaters that these elections are happening, and that they can have input into choosing who represents them on CaRT council for the next 4 years. (I think in many cases it is fair to say "lack of knowledge" rather than "apathy", although of course for some, it will be the latter!).

I would urge all boat owners to try and spread the message to fellow boat owners. Even if you do not want to give me your first preference, (or a high preference) vote, I think it is important that people are aware, and do vote for someone, so that a large number of boaters can be seen to have had an input into whoever ends up elected.

Potential Voting Problems For Continuous Cruisers

John Sloan in a comment to my previous post has mentioned an important topic I have been trying to first to get to the bottom of, and then follow up.  The answer I finally got from the CaRT election pages, (actually from Sally Ash of BW), says.

“If you wish to vote electronically you will need your voting pack as it will contain your unique reference number which will be needed in order to cast your vote.”

I had feared this might eventually prove to be the answer, and can immediately see the difficulty that it could cause John and many others.

I have therefore also contacted the Electoral Reform Service.  They acknowledge this as a problem, and say they are working with BW to see if a way can be found at this late stage to allow Internet voting by those who have been unable to receive a postal pack.

I am highly disappointed that no consideration seems to have been given to this matter until now.

I did also try submitting a news story to Waterways World to try and raise awareness on this, but their news editor has said he cannot use my copy, because it can be seen to be unfairly favouring one candidate above another.  I’m also disappointed by this, as I would at least hope it identified me as someone prepared to try and be proactive in trying to sort out what I consider to be ill thought through.  It is possible WW may use my story, but are not prepared to credit me as the person who first (as far as I know) raised the issue.

Oh, and even amongst the considerable time being spent "electioneering" , other "boaty" things still need to occur.  Sickle has her first Boat Safety Scheme inspection under our ownership next week, and there were certain items I was just plain unhappy with.  So yesterday a degree of "re-engineering" was going on in Sickle's engine room.

Of course, you simply can't make any change without testing it out can you ?  Of course not!  So a bit late in the day, Sickle enjoyed a short trip out just to prove everything still worked as expected.

Not only did she remain mechanically sound, but Cath proved that the Epping will make a very presentable job of cooking potato wedges, even when not burning at its best.  So we enjoyed these with cheese, beans and peas, whilst perched on the cabin top chugging along in fading light.

Boating, hey ?  I love it!

To Tinkers Bridge and back
Miles: (just!) 3.2, Locks:0


  1. It's like other traveller communities, the homeless and those in and out of institutions - election processes tend to exclude these people, ensuring they are never properly represented.

  2. Carrie,

    I can't disagree.

    At the moment there is still every indication that this election is going to be much harder for anybody to vote in, (and quite likely impossible for them to vote in), if they are not able to actually receive a letter sent to a postal address in a timely manner.

    I can't say whether that is because those who devised the process actually don't care, or simply whether they never thought about it, but either way it is clearly not a "good thing"!

    I'll try ringing the Electoral Reform Service again, to see if any progress was made on this and other issues.


  3. As you well know, I have no vote for the CaRT election, but I wish you well in this project.