Agenda item


To inform the Committee of actions taken by the Strategic Manager and BCA Canal Manager in managing, maintaining and operating the Canal; and report the work of the Conservation Steering Group.



Wendy Makepeace-Browne (Hart District Council) arrived at 10:45am.




Fiona Shipp, Canal Manager- Basingstoke Canal Authority (BCA)

James Taylor, Strategic Manager- Basingstoke Canal (SCC/HCC)


Key points raised during the discussion:


  1. The Canal Manager (BCA) provided a summary of the completed planned maintenance and length inspection works which included lock gate replacement and winter flail towpath cutting. It was explained that there was an increase in visitor numbers to various events on the Canal and a greater social media following.


  1. The Canal Manager (BCA) also stated that there was a fully volunteer crewed Patrol Boat which checked people’s licences particularly unpowered boats and issued licences as an extra source of revenue. A new smaller patrol boat donated to the Basingstoke Canal Authority and Basingstoke Canal Society by the Boys Brigade, would now be used as a second patrol boat in Odiham.


  1. The Canal Manager (BCA) praised the support from volunteers which equated to 23,982 work hours last year. Two volunteer-led work boats cleared rubbish and Floating Pennywortand a regular weekly group of 30 volunteers carried out minor maintenance and vegetation clearance. Special recognition of volunteers was noted including Mike Gordon the Head Lengthsman and crew manager for Rosebud, was awarded the Chairman’s Award. Ken Sankey of the BCS was a runner up of the Volunteer of the Year Award and Steve Livsey-Bennett the Canal Ranger BCA was awarded runner up of the Volunteer Leader Award.


  1. As part of the Capital Works programme 2018, the Strategic Manager remarked that contractors had been working on a prioritised system of bank protection throughout the Canal and lock repairs in Surrey. To save money the same contractor was used throughout. It was also reported that Woking Town wharf had been completed and had been officially opened at the end of May. In Hampshire, the complex issue of Swan “cutting” was being addressed by Hampshire County Council engineers who contacted residents for greater access along this narrow area to carry out further monitoring works. Work was postponed until late 2019/2020 at Crookham Deeps to re-line a section of the canal bed due to planning permission being required for a silt drying lagoon.


  1. The Strategic Manager asked the Committee to approve the Campsite Business Plan with revised figures since November 2017, this followed a more detailed plan from the architects and was included in the Supplementary Agenda. The Campsite Business Plan included an increased draw on reserves of approximately £57,000, calculated from the revised BCA match funding draw of reserves of £141,029 minus the original £84,000 costing. The non-matched grant draw on reserves of £35,000 was also included in the plan as a specific item covering preparation work which could not be claimed for. The Strategic Manager and Honorary Treasurer noted that the BCA’s portion of the investment would be paid back in under four years.


  1. The Strategic Manager informed the Committee of the joint collaboration with Woking Borough Council and Surrey County Council project on Chobham Road turnover bridge funded by EM3. The planning application was recently granted by Woking Borough Council scheduled to commence this winter, the bridge would avoid pedestrians and cyclists needing to negotiate the traffic in Woking town centre.


  1. The Committee expressed disappointment that the Basingstoke Canal Authority did not achieve the Water Environment Grant (WEG) from Natural England of £250,000 to aid tree thinning and invasive species removal policies. The Committee sought to ask the representative from Natural England at this meeting to provide an explanation but no one was present. The Strategic Manager had received a verbal update from Natural England before the Committee, which was that the second point’s threshold had not been met, however the promised detailed written explanation had not been provided. Officers agreed upon further communication with Natural England, for a detailed explanation.


  1. Members were very concerned with the inconsistency of Natural England’s view that the Canal is a nationally important habitat, which restricted the ability to do certain income generating operations, whilst not provide funding to compensate for this. The Vice-Chairman of the Committee would contact Rt Hon. Michael Gove the Member of Parliament for Surrey Heath and Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on the matter.


  1. The Strategic Manager explained that abstraction licensing had changed in 2018 by the Environment Agency (EA), which had highlighted inconsistencies over the licences required for the Canal.Legal Counsel had been consulted and concluded that the EA were incorrect in not recognising the County Councils as navigation authorities, not permitting them access to the concessions available. The EA on reviewing Counsel’s opinion had reversed their previous stance. Two volunteers from the Basingstoke Canal Society Martin Leech and John How, were thanked for their role in helping the Strategic Manager with this issue.


  1. Officers reported that the Basingstoke Canal Authority’s Conservation Management Plan was approved by Natural England and had been adopted for the next ten years.


Actions/ further information to be provided:


  1. A5/19: The Committee agreed upon further communication with Natural England on the issue of not receiving the Water Environment Grant (WEG), led by the Strategic Manager.

The Vice-Chairman of the Committee would contact Michael Gove the Member of Parliament for Surrey Heath and Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on the matter of funding.




  1. The Committee noted the report.


  1. The Committee approved the Campsite Business Plan which showed the revised figures of increased funding required by the Basingstoke Canal Authority of approximately £57,000.



Supporting documents: