Agenda item

Canal Management Report

To inform the Committee of actions taken by the Strategic Manager and BCA Canal Manager in managing, maintaining and operating the Canal since the preceding meeting, and look forward work likely to happen in the 1st half of 2023; and to report the work of the Conservation Steering Group.



Fiona Shipp, BCA Canal Manager

James Taylor, Strategic Manager – Basingstoke Canal


Key points raised during the discussion:


  1. The officer introduced the report and provided a brief summary. Members noted details related to:

a.    That the two key themes were related to water level and staffing.

b.    In regard to water levels, Members noted that the levels of input from the aquifer held well and were able to continue to pass water down the Canal until on 22nd June when the Deepcut and Brookwood lock flights were closed. Ash Lock was closed on Fri 24th June. There was an unprecedented closure of the Mytchett pound to unpowered boats on 15th August and that this was the first time since restoration that this has had to happen due to drought and lack of water. The BCA were able to maintain powered and unpowered navigation in the Hampshire Pound for the full season. The Mytchett Pound remained extremely low but rainfall at the end of August allowed re opened to unpowered boats on 14th September.

c.     Officers were concerned with the long-term impact of the recent drought however currently there were no signs of significant harm to either assets or wildlife. Members noted that there was no loss of fish stock.

d.    In regard to staffing, two Assistant Rangers left in the last 6 months however there was recruitment to one of the vacant Waterway Ranger Posts. Five ranger posts were now filled with two currently undergoing training. One of the lock keeping positions had been moved to a seasonal position rather than a full time permanent position. 

e.    Noted details of the Safer Street Project related to a number of indecent exposure incidents in Woking.

f.      Noted details related to the income lost due to the drought. 

g.    Noted that a Police Sergeant from Hampshire Police force had a two week placement and would be spending a further two weeks in the Winter. Officers stated that it was important for the Canal Authority to have contact with local police officers.

h.    Thanked the Basingstoke Canal Society for their work with volunteers.

i.      Provided an update on the Conservation Steering Group meetings which were held twice a year. An independent company had been asked to review records from the last 20 years to consider any correlations between the different factors that affect the Canal. The outcome of this would be a review of the Conservation Management Plan to try and import the quality of Special Scientific Interest. Members noted that this was a statutory duty.

j.      In regard to asset management, Members noted details of the Deepcut Towpath Improvement, Swan “cutting” in Hampshire, Weirs and Sluices updates, as noted in the report.

  1. The Chairman felt the introduction was very detailed and asked that the Canal Manager attend the meeting held with the Leaders and Executive Members, as noted and agreed earlier in these minutes, to give an overview of the work done by the Canal Authority.
  2. In regard to the weed-cutter, Members noted that it had been out of action for around a year due to issues with procuring replacements parts. Work to design a new rake-head had taken place and officers were now close to having the new part made. Officers stressed that the procurement of replacement parts was usually a difficult process.
  3. Members asked how long it would take for Deepcut Locks to be reopened. Officers hoped to reopen within the next month, depending on rainfall.
  4. The Joint Management Committee congratulated the Canal Manager and her team for their work over the previous six months.
  5. In regard to the aquifer, a Member highlighted that a water company’s abstraction licence ended in March 2023 and did not expect for it to be renewed. 
  6. Members reiterated their thanks to the team for all their efforts and praised their commitment to the Basingstoke.


Actions/ further information to be provided:






The Joint Management Committee noted the report.


Supporting documents: