Middle Level
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Middle Level Watermens' Club

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16th June 2024

MLC Navigation Advisory Committee Report - June 21, 2022.

Dear Members,

Please see below my report of the main points of interest for our members of the Navigation Advisory Committee meeting held on 21st June, 2022.

March Sanitary Station.

First the good news. The Middle Level Commissioners are very pleased to be able to report that they have been working closely with Fenland District Council (FDC) to identify opportunities to maintain and enhance the navigation experience through March. As part of these ongoing discussions FDC have reaffirmed their commitment to maintain the pump out facilities in the centre of town. These are currently non-operational but confirmation has been received that a replacement pump has been ordered, allowing for planned installation and commissioning late summer or early autumn this year.

The sanitary station is of course now included in the new draft Local Plan which is now being prepared and will contain references to the “Narrowboat Community” ( read provision of residential moorings). Consultation of the new plan is due to run from the beginning of August, 2022, for eight weeks.

A sum of £25,000 from MLC had been identified as a contribution for improvements on the waterways, including through March and £5,000 of this is committed to the park area for improvements to access the river. 

Ramsey Basin. 

Ramsey Basin has received very positive feedback about the installation of the moorings and it was hoped that they would act as a springboard to further improvements in Ramsey. The water point and rubbish disposal points are now to be organised for the moorings although further work is needed to assist with access for the disabled via improvements to the ramp down to the moorings. Enlarging the winding hole at this is still an aspiration but further work and funding would be required before this could be achieved. 

Bill Fen Marina.

The Navigation Officer, Kevin Russell, had now gained access to the Bill Fen Marina and approximately 95% of the boats were now registered or in the process of registration. A small group of boaters were refusing to register and they would be subject to the enforcement procedure before further action could be taken. David Thomas advised that to date in the current year 231 boats were licensed. It was uncertain how many boats on the system had not registered but are being pursued with letters and Enforcement Notices. 

It was commented that there had been some issues with the issuing of Anglian Passes from the EA and it was suggested that it was best to contact the EA by phone to get a Pass issued. The EA’s Nathan Arnold stated that 460 Anglian Passes had been issued last yearend already 505 had been issued for the current year from 1st April

The Canal & River Trust are now issuing part year Gold Licences. The Gold Licence is a Canal & River Trust and EA Licence and with the addition of the Anglian Pass was recognised in Middle Level Waterways. It was proposed to keep discussions open with the Canal & River Trust for the inclusion of MLC on Gold Licenses.

Licensing of Small Craft

David Thomas advised that he had held a meeting with the Well Creek Trust and discussed the options for the licensing of small craft and this would be reviewed again in the future. 

Nathan Arnold advised that the EA were going to produce a leaflet that could be handed out by suppliers of paddle boards advising of the need to apply for registration or join the British Canoe Union. This could also be an option to be pursued by MLC as the BCU license is recognised by every other navigation authority UK wide and represents excellent value for money

Engagement with Waterways Users.

David Thomas reported that the area of land adjacent to the George Inn had been levelled. Where possible the area of grass near rural moorings would be mowed more often. 

It was proving to be a very bad year for reed and weed in the system and David Thomas reported that the MLC had employed an extra member of staff to operate a weed boat on a temporary basis which would allow 2 teams of weedboat boat pairs to operate.

David Thomas reported that the Commissioners would continue to put as much information as possible on their website. 

In view of the unfortunate incident involving our member Pete Smiths’ “Oakey Dokey” it would seem information as important as river flow and water depth, especially through March, isn’t being given the appropriate notification urgency as necessary and will need to be rectified.

Mike Daines.  

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