To receive a presentation from Fiona Shipp, Canal Manager, on the work of the Basingstoke Canal Authority.
Fiona Shipp, Canal Manager, gave a presentation in respect of the work of the Basingstoke Canal Authority.
The Basingstoke Canal Authority had responsibility for maintaining and enhancing the 37 miles of Canal which ran from the River Wey Navigation at New Haw down towards Basingstoke. 32 of the Canal’s 37 miles were now navigable and the Canal had 29 locks, 1 dry-dock, 3 aqueducts and 2 tunnels.
It was outlined that the Canal Authority’s revenue funding had originally been subject to a Memorandum of Agreement with 6 district and borough authorities and 7 of Hampshire’s parish councils. 63% of the Authority’s income was provided by grants provided by town, parish, borough and county council’s bordering the canal. The remaining 37% was raised through income generation from a range of activities including campsite fees, angling licences and mooring fees. It was believed that the funding contributions from statutory partners were calculated according to a formula set out in the Memorandum of Agreement and based on the length of the canal running through the partner’s area and the population living within a set distance of the canal.
The Authority was supported and enhanced by the Basingstoke Canal Society who took the lead on fundraising activities and proactively identified and approached grant funding schemes for support. The Society’s volunteers played a key role in enhancing visitor experiences through a range of activities including conservation work, running the visitor centre and organising and running regular boat trips for the public along the Canal including its immensely popular Children’s Father Christmas Cruises. The Society had also assumed responsibility for raising the canal’s profile across a number of social media platforms. Volunteers played a key role in carrying out boat audits along the length of the canal work that was instrumental in identifying boat owners who had been avoiding paying mooring fees. Volunteers also regularly monitored specific parts of the canal reporting any problems or concerns directly to for resolution; an arrangement that meant the Canal Authority was able to utilise its limited resources as effectively and efficiently as possible.
It had been recognised that improvements to the campsite facilities would attract significant additional revenue and a planning application for a new ablutions block, electrical hook up facilities, camping pods and upgraded CCTV was being developed.
Arising from Members’ questions and comments the following points were noted:
· A copy of the Memorandum of Agreement and funding formula would be circulated to members and officer.
· Low level vandalism had been reported following the installation of the new moorings at the Centre and the Authority’s Equipment Barn had been broken into. However these had been isolated incidents and additional security measures had been put in place.
· Individuals made more use of the kayak hire facility than groups who tended to use the facilities of the Basingstoke Canal Canoe Club, which operated from the same site, to achieve accredited qualifications.
· Section 106 money received from the Deepcut development had been allocated to pay for the resurfacing of the towpath through Deepcut. If sufficient funding was available additional resurfacing works would be carried out between Deepcut and Frimley.
· The Committee was informed that the grant received from Surrey Heath Borough Council was £16282 less than that indicated on the Memorandum agreed by all participating Authorities, and it was requested that the Council contribute as much as possible until the Canal Authority were able to become more self sufficient
· The Canal Authority shared the Ash Lock Depot with the Blackwater Valley Countryside Park. There were also shared training opportunities and opportunities to work on linked projects.
· The Basingstoke Angling Association paid £10,000 a year for the fishing rights on the Canal and day permits were available from the Canal Centre.
The Committee thanked Fiona Shipp for her informative update.