Monday 12 March 2012

CRT Election Day

Emmeline Pankhurst would be turning in her grave if she knew how little I had exercised my right to vote in this life. When I started living on a narrowboat I was young and care-free, and it was easy to assume that all of the political parties were as bad as each other. I was an art college graduate with messy hair and hippy clothes and if I did vote, I mused whimsically, perhaps I’d vote for the Green party. It also seemed to me, that living on a boat without a permanent address made it very difficult to register to vote. It was only as I matured, like a fine wine (or a smelly cheese) that I made time to look into this properly. By filling out a simple form called A Declaration of Local Connection any person of no fixed abode can actually be registered on the electoral role.
So, with the imminent inauguration of the Canal and Rivers Trust it was quite new to me to be invited to express a preference in an election that will have a significant impact on my way of life. I have no idea why when boaters bring in about 20 per cent of British Waterway’s annual income*, that they are only allocated four elected council positions. There were 33 candidates standing for election to represent private boaters and I was struck by the passion for and dedication to the waterways that each of their statements displayed. Many of the candidates already do notable voluntary work, being members of associations, restoration projects, committees, societies and charities. At first I was drawn to the candidates that I feel I ‘know’ through my work life, or through their on line presence. But after taking the time to read all of the statements carefully, I found it more and more difficult to make a decision.
 I was impressed by the extensive boating experience held by all of the candidates, their previous achievements and their proposals for the future. I liked it when two candidates specified that the waterways are for boats. I felt an affinity with Ian Robert Harrison when he wrote “I lived aboard with my young family for three years”, because I too have a young family aboard.  I thought that it was interesting when Frank Kelly pointed out that the DEFRA consultation did not reflect that the waterways “now support a large population of people dependent on boats as homes”.
For me personally, selecting someone with an understanding of the needs of the live aboard boater was a must, but that person must also be willing to fairly represent boaters of all types with differing ideas of what is important. “Categorising boaters into particular groupings is unhelpful and divisive,” said Alan Fincher’s statement.
The election closed on Friday at noon.  I cast my vote on line and came away from this experience with the utmost respect for all of these people dedicated to spending so much of their time in improving the experience of the waterways for all boaters.
What would be important to you in such an election? If you are not already a boat owner hotel boats are a wonderful way to explore the English canals and rivers.

Disclosure: I wrote this post for Neil and Corrine at Canal Voyagers. For business blogging and other services visit

For the month of March this blog will be featuring these sponsored posts, while I get on top of my various work committments. I plan to include more tales about the real life of a narrowboat wife in April. If you would like to contribute a personal story about living aboard I am happy to accept guest posts.


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