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EXETER SHIP CANAL Powered By Docstoc
					                                EXETER CITY COUNCIL

                       ECONOMY SCRUTINY COMMITTEE
                              21st JUNE 2001

                             CANAL SERVICE REVIEW


1.1   Purpose of the Review

      The Council commissioned the Review in order to:-

       consider how services contribute to the Council‟s strategic objectives;

       challenge how and why the service is provided;

       compare the performance and operational practices of the service with similar
        services elsewhere;

       consult with local users, statutory and other bodies, and businesses in setting new
        performance targets;

       embrace fair competition as a means of securing efficient and effective services.

1.2   Scope of the Review

      The service is delivered by a team which is also responsible for the City Council‟s
      position as the Harbour Authority for the Exe Estuary. However the Review dealt
      only with the operation of the Exeter Ship Canal. There were no limitations to the
      review within that context. The review included:

            existing Canal operations

            market potential

            leisure and tourism uses

            conservation, wildlife and environmental constraints and opportunities

            short and long term maintenance needs

            risk assessment for users and workforce

            legal powers and review procedures

            potential partnering arrangements

            interface with river and estuary

            existing and future financial arrangements

1.3   Objectives of the Review

            To increase sustainable use of the Canal for the benefit of all, while looking to
             reduce the net revenue costs to the Council

            To identify appropriate management practices for interface and consultation
             with relevant agencies and users

            To identify appropriate management practices for the carrying out of repairs
             and maintenance to the Canal

            To consider the practical implementation issues for the proposed
             redevelopment of the Quay and Basin area, including:-

      relocation and enhancement of the Boat laying up area;

      whitewater canoe course and facilities;

      any potential areas of development or constraint for the Canal;

            To consider the impact of the foregoing in relation to the built and natural
             environment of the Canal

1.4   Membership of the Service Review Group

      The Group comprised:

      Councillor C McNamara
      John Rigby (Director, Economy and Development)
      David Brown (Head of Estates Services)
      Alan Caig (Head of Leisure and Museums)
      Paul Mountford (Head of Policy Unit)
      Kate Oldroyd (Best Value Administrator)

1.5   Key Partners

      The Group identified these as the Environment Agency, English Nature, English
      Heritage, British Waterways, Teignbridge District Council and Devon County

1.6   Timetable

      The Council placed the Canal service in the first year of its Best Value Review
      programme, that is relatively early, because of a perception that it was unduly
      expensive. Income levels are low in comparison to expenditure, and have dropped
      substantially in recent years following the decline of commercial traffic, and in
      particular the cessation of the sludge vessel‟s use of the Canal. There was an urgent
      need to review operational practices in the light of changing usage patterns.

      The original timetable envisaged Members receiving the completed report early in
      2001. However although the service is a relatively small one, the issues related to it
      are complex, and involve outside agencies with a national remit. Establishing agreed
      working practices through the medium of a Management Plan was agreed to be a key
      output of the Review, but is taking some time to complete.

2.1   Scope of Service

      The Service is the operation and management of the Exeter Ship Canal. This includes
      managing passage through the Canal, lock operation, maintenance and repair, boat
      laying up and general day to day issues. This Service is operated by the Leisure &
      Museums Unit of the Community and Environment Directorate, undertaken by the
      River and Canal Team, with the advice and assistance of the Technical Services Unit
      on maintenance issues. Some aspects of the work are contracted out, internally and
      externally. The Grounds Maintenance Unit undertakes the grass cutting, and selected
      contractors carry out some specialist maintenance on the fabric.

2.2   Statutory Framework

      The Exeter Canal Act 1829 is the statutory basis for the Canal. In the opinion of
      Belinda Bucknell QC, who provided a legal opinion in March 1990, the 1829 Act
      imposes on the City Council a duty to keep the Canal open and maintained to enable
      commercial vessels to pass through its entire length. This need not necessarily
      include pleasure vessels.

2.3   Other Statutory Considerations

      For approximately half the total length, the Canal runs through sites of protected
      wildlife habitat. These are a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI, highest UK
      wildlife designation), a Special Protection Area (SPA, European designation) and a
      Ramsar site (International designation for endangered habitats). The Canal is also the
      oldest pound lock canal built in England, and so attracts built heritage protection too.
      The Basin is part of a Conservation Area. These designations provide the legal basis
      within which English Nature, the Environment Agency and English Heritage exercise
      their powers.

      Half of the Canal falls into the administrative area of Teignbridge District Council,
      which is therefore the planning authority for much of its length.

      Devon County Council is the Highway Authority, responsible for the road bridges and
      other rights of way issues.

2.4   Discretionary Functions

      The provision of boat laying up could be considered a discretionary part of the service.
      However if this was discontinued, one could argue that even the few vessels that
      currently use the Canal would have no reason to do so and by default navigation
      would cease.

2.5   Staffing

      The Canal team comprises of 4 full time Canal operatives, and one part time
      administration assistant. In addition, there is the River & Canal Manager who divides
      his time between the Estuary and the Canal.

2.6   Workload

      The workload of the Team broadly divides into three groups of tasks; operations,
      maintenance and ancillary. Operations include locking, mast stepping and striking
      (de-masting), assisting boats up and down the Canal, tending to yachts, craning boats
      for Winter storage and littering, water and security checks. Maintenance ranges from
      grass cutting to maintaining ECC vessels, vehicles and buildings to lock gates, banks
      and tow paths. Time splits almost equally between operations and maintenance at
      around 40% of the team workload each. Ancillary tasks mainly consist of work on the
      river and on Exeter and Topsham quays.

2.7   Canal Budget 2000/2001

                     Description                            Total           Total
                                                               £              £
       Employees                                          89,940
       Premises                                           58,620
       Supplies and Services                              18,360
       Transport                                          11,040
       Support Services                                   65,150
       Charges                                            47,430
       Total expenditure                                                290,540

       Fees and Charges                                   26,320
       Rental Income                                      23,290
       Total Income                                                      49,610
       Net Expenditure                                                  240,930

2.8    Market Analysis

       Exeter Ship Canal does not have any direct competition but the facilities which it
       provides, either individually or as part of a package, are available elsewhere. Fishing,
       boating, cycling, walking, wildlife and heritage facilities would all fall within these
       definitions. The Canal forms part of the historic settlement of Exeter which has
       potential for heritage tourism.      However, it is recognised that these individual
       component parts are not grouped to provide such a facility anywhere else in the Exeter
       area, or even in the South West.           As such, there is no direct comparison or
       competition when looked at as an entity.

2.9    Exeter Ship Canal is unique. Few other facilities provide a direct link from the sea
       through to a central City location and unlike most other Canals, it does not give access
       to a larger canal network. Other ship canals provide a link from one open stretch of
       water to another but again, Exeter Canal does not. Accordingly, the market for which
       the Canal caters is different: sea going vessels use it rather than the traditional canal
       narrow boats, and at present almost exclusively only to utilise the boat laying up
       facilities. There is however a clear opportunity to capitalise on the tourist potential of
       a water link to the heart of a historic city.

2.10   Winter boat storage or laying up for pleasure craft is a business where the Canal trades
       freely and in the open market with other boat yards offering similar or better facilities.

2.11   The Users

       Although the City built the Canal, and ran it for centuries for purely commercial
       reasons, the last quarter century has seen dramatic changes in patterns of usage. The
       last commercial operation ceased three years ago, and use of the Canal for maritime
       purposes is now confined to the 100 or so boat owners who bring their vessels up the
       Canal in the autumn to lay them up for the winter. As owners are not allowed to
       sleep on board their vessels, there is no tourist trade.

2.12   Even recreational use can be divided into casual and more purposeful categories.
       Many walkers, joggers and cyclists are using the Canal and its surroundings as the
       setting for their activity, or as a route to a destination. Anglers, rowers and canoeists
       use the Canal as an actual facility for their sport. It has been said that the biggest
       single category is the users of the two pubs which stand by the Canal. As both
       hostelries belong to the Exeter Canal and Quay Trust and provide income which
       offsets the costs of the Canal, it is important that their customers continue to find them
       attractive places to visit - the Canal setting is a crucial element of such attraction.

2.13   A River and Canal Users Forum (distinct from the focus group) represents all non-
       casual categories of user, and took part in this Review.

2.14   Other Stakeholders

       There were approximately thirty individuals and organisations consulted. including -
       English Nature, the Environment Agency, English Heritage, the Royal Society for the

       Protection of Birds. The Review Team has kept all of them closely in touch with the
       progress of the review, and consulted them regularly.

2.15   Vision, Aims and Objectives for the Canal

       The Canal service was not operating to any agreed set of service objectives at the time
       of the Review.

       Baseline Performance

2.16   Performance Indicators

       There are no national indicators for canals under local authority management. Exeter
       City Council has adopted only one indicator hitherto, the number of boats locking into
       the Canal at Turf in the course of a year. The target performance has been 65 for
       some time. In 1998 and 1999 the actual performance was 63. In 2000 actual
       performance was 85. The Team considered that these were inadequate to reflect the
       performance of the Canal, and recommends some additional measures which will
       enable the Council to monitor performance across the breadth of the service.

2.17   SWOT Analysis of the Canal Operation


       Well established service with experienced staff
       Accessible at many points
       Many ancillary attractions, such as pubs, valley park, cycle ways, bird watching etc.
       Close to city centre and transport links but mainly in countryside
       Structures are adequately maintained
       Size and capacity of the Canal in terms of recreational use


       Low traditional usage levels
       High maintenance and operational costs
       Labour intensive operation of locks and bridges
       Poor ancillary features - e.g. pumpout stations, showers, pontoons
       Staff and policies focused on boats, not on main users
       Low air draft of Motorway bridge
       Too small for modern commercial traffic


       Well placed to contribute to city tourism
       Unique heritage and situation
       Growth of outdoor activity leisure
       Space available for boating and recreational expansion


       Insufficient investment to exploit opportunities
       Lack of expertise and resources to promote opportunities

2.18   Benchmarking

       There is no formal benchmarking available for canals in this country, but officers
       contacted British Waterways to establish a means of comparison. The results show
       that the Canal is not unduly expensive in any area of its operation, in spite of its
       unusual position isolated from the national network and operated without any
       economies of scale whatever. The Review team concluded that although the exercise
       had been useful in providing rough indications of comparative performance, there was
       no substantial benefit in undertaking any future work to establish benchmarks.

2.19   What is perhaps much more useful to the City Council is the process benchmarking
       which is now underway, following the establishment of the link with British
       Waterways. It is now possible to test any given practice against the policy of BW. In
       the case of environmental standards this is particularly useful: BW have already been
       very helpful in providing advice and assistance in agreeing generic work practices
       which will save time in negotiation and possibly unnecessary research and work.

2.20   User Satisfaction

       The Council set up a focus group of Canal users to review the operation of the service.
       It met twice, with independent facilitation, and members of the Service Review Group
       attended. Initial satisfaction levels were low, but in discussion, particularly at the
       second meeting, focus group members moved to a more considered position, realising
       that their aspirations were often expensive and difficult to implement.

2.21   The Group identified the most serious problems as far as they were concerned, as the
       lack of management, no structured plan for the future, no core function for the Canal
       and a lack of finances. The main attributes were seen as water for leisure use;
       diversity and abundance of wildlife; link between the inner City and the countryside;
       and the potential to contribute to tourism.

2.22   Other issues which came out of the meeting, are contained in the Challenge section of
       the Review. (See paragraph 4.5)

2.23   Staff Satisfaction

       The staff are very committed to the Canal and their comments centred round their
       perception of lack of investment in the facility over the years. Their work largely
       focuses on the passage of boats and the maintenance of the Canal as a navigable
       waterway, so it is not surprising that their suggestions for improvement would bring in
       new and improved facilities for boats of all kinds, as short and long term visitors.

2.24   Throughout the whole period of the Review the operational team of four staff has
       been two short, and the work has been covered by temporary staff and overtime. They
       believe this has led to a reduction in standards and productivity.

2.25   All in all the staff are fairly frustrated that the potential of the Canal, as they see it, is
       not being realised. Their view revolves around the role of the Canal in its more
       traditional form - as the means by which boats reach the heart of the City of Exeter.

2.26   Member and Senior Management Satisfaction

       The Review team did not survey this in any depth, but there is a clear perception that
       the cost of the Canal service is high in relation to the service delivered. In crude terms
       it could be construed that the Council subsidises every boat which enters the Canal by
       some £2,500. This naturally is the cause of some unease when the Council is seeking
       to achieve value for money generally. In practice this headline statistic conceals the
       much wider role of the Canal for a range of recreational uses, and conceals the
       potential. The way in which budgets are constructed, and the choice of a performance
       indicator which only serves to measure traditional usage are actively preventing the
       Council from evaluating the true service which the Canal has begun to perform.

2.27   Summary of Key Issues

       The Key Issues defined by the team are:

              The Future of the Canal

              Environmental Management

              Maintenance of the Fabric

              Promoting the Canal and Managing Increasing Usage

              Planning for Capital Development

              Management Plan

              Managing the Service - Standards, Practices, Options

       The Team used these issues as the basis for their work on challenging and comparing
       the service

3.1    Methodology

3.2    The Service Review Group led the challenge process, but it received ideas from the
       three sources: the user focus group, the statutory consultees and the staff group.
       Although the Group sought to use benchmarking and comparison to stimulate

      challenge, in practice it was clear that the Canal was unique. It did not lend itself to
      any process designed to use models of best practice in canal management as templates
      for change. However it was found possible to use ideas drawn from a wider range of
      sources, such as heritage and water-based tourism, outdoor education, country parks
      and marinas, to build a plan for service development and improvement.

3.3   The Group used several means to assemble the information and thinking needed to
      challenge the service:

            brainstorming sessions with users, specialist agencies and staff

            work with the country‟s main owner and operator of canals, British Waterways

            research into levels and types of usage, legal obligations and powers and
             potential uses and activities

            developing models of alternative management and ownership

            developing a full scale management plan with all partners, which tests all
             operational and maintenance practice

3.4   The Group considered the following aspects of the Canal service:

            The need for the service

            The nature of the Canal: a navigation, a park, an outdoor recreation centre, a
             tourist attraction

            The barriers to development and enhancement: technological, cultural,

            Sustainable Development

3.5   The Need for the Service

3.6   At an early stage the Review considered whether the Council could abandon the Canal
      service, and whether it should. Options for abandonment range from complete
      withdrawal and the filling in of the Canal to a policy of benign neglect. The latter
      would ultimately see the bed of the Canal become a wildlife habitat, eventually
      blending into the Valley Park or marshland which surrounds it.

3.7   On the basis of the small number of boats requiring passage from Turf to the Basin,
      currently less than 100, closure is likely to offer the main opportunity to reduce the
      high cost of the service. Some landscape management, safety and central costs could
      not be shed, but savings of about £150,000 from a total annual budget of £300,000
      would be possible.

3.8    The Council has an obligation under the Exeter Canal Act 1829 to keep the Canal
       open and operational, but only for commercial traffic, of which there is now none.
       Theoretically commercial traffic could return at any time, leaving the Council
       vulnerable if it was unable to meet its obligations. There is no obligation to provide
       navigation for the leisure traffic - non-existent of course at the time of the 1829 Act.

3.9    However it is necessary to look at the nature of the Canal in 2001 before drawing the
       conclusion that it is poorly used and expensive. Although the budget, the operation
       and the staffing continue to function as if the Canal were for the exclusive use of boats
       making passage from one end to the other, the actual picture is very different. The
       Canal and its environs provide the setting and the facilities for a very wide range of
       recreational and sporting activities, the scale of which dwarfs maritime use. Closure,
       immediate or progressive, would affect a large proportion of users directly. Others,
       the dry land users, would see the quality of the setting of their activity decline. The
       investment value of the City‟s and ECQT‟s property holdings would also be likely to

3.10   The Group also consider that there is potential for growth in the boating market on the
       canal, given changes in policy and promotion.

3.11   The first recommendation of the Review is therefore:

       that the Council continue to operate the Canal for the benefit of the many thousands
       of local recreational users and tourists, as well as for boats.

3.12   The Nature of the Canal

3.13   Considering whether the Canal should remain open brought home very powerfully the
       extent of non-boating use of the waterway and its surroundings. The Authority
       devotes most of its staff time and budget to the operation and upkeep of the navigation
       infrastructure of the Canal. Virtually the whole Council effort ensures that boats can
       pass through the Canal, even though the vast majority of them do so in order to lay up
       for the winter. The Council appears to direct its resources towards the provision of a
       marina, albeit the actual effect is to provide and maintain a facility which benefits a
       large proportion of the residents of the City, and attracts tourists.

3.14   Moreover the City chooses not to allow the many boats which would visit the Basin
       for short periods to do so, because of its rigid policy on sleeping on board. This
       prevents the Canal from realising a substantial part of its potential, both as a
       destination for visiting yachts, and as a maritime spectacle which would draw tourists.

3.15   In fact much of the justification for providing the Canal service lies in its importance
       to the Riverside Valley Park, of which it is a vital part.

3.16   The Council has not reconsidered its policy or reasons for providing the Canal until
       now, although structural, economic and social changes have taken effect. No
       approved aims and objectives existed for the Canal service, and therefore there was no
       monitoring of its performance against them. The sole performance indicator for the

       Canal referred explicitly to the number of boats using the system, therefore reinforcing
       the impression that the Canal was an expensive and little used facility.

3.17   The current Canal bye-laws date from 1908. As might be expected they concentrate
       almost exclusively on the maritime aspects of the service.

3.18   Discussions in-house, with the Focus Group, the Canal Users‟ Forum and the
       Statutory Undertakers all confirmed that there was an urgent need to re-evaluate what
       the Canal means to the City and the community. A new vision, aims and objectives
       for the Canal emerged during these discussions (see para 2.2) which reflect the new
       dimensions. The Canal has taken on elements of public park, country park, sports and
       recreation facility and tourist attraction. It is important that the Council‟s policy
       framework reflects this change in emphasis, and that it manages the Canal to
       contribute to the Council‟s own objectives.

3.19   To bring about and reinforce this change in perception the Review recommends

       that the Council adopts the Vision, Aims and Objectives put forward in the Review

       that the Council uses a more rounded set of indicators to measure the performance of
       the Canal service, designed to reflect the full breadth of the Canal operation

       the broad based survey of users be carried out as soon the situation permits

       that the Council draws up a new set of bye laws, with the advice and assistance of
       British Waterways.

3.20   The Barriers to Improvement and Enhancement

3.21   The user focus group devoted considerable time to looking at possible enhancements
       to the Canal and to the Canal service, as did the staff group and members of the
       Review team. The team asked: why has the Canal not fulfilled the potential which
       everyone appears to recognise. The Review team considers that these barriers fall into
       three categories: cultural, technological and financial.

3.22   The first part of the answer to the question is that no-one has fully considered the
       potential for the Canal, or attempted to analyse it until this review. The Canal has
       always been there, the City Council‟s responsibility, and if anything regarded as a
       liability which must be endured. No authority is going to invest in or enhance such a
       service. While there was still commercial use of the waterway this was probably the
       case, but the end of the sludge vessel means that there is no longer any necessity to
       operate the Canal. In the meantime the world has moved on, and the City finds that it
       is in possession of a fine and valued recreational and tourist resource. Inevitably the
       Council must now regard its potential in a different light.

3.23   This view is mirrored by the operational practices which derive almost exclusively
       from the same source: the Canal is for the very few boats which choose to use it. It
       follows therefore that things may start to change, and new ideas will emerge, once the
       Canal is regarded as a tourist and recreational asset, and not as a commercial liability.

3.24   Similarly it is a firmly set policy in the authority that visiting yachts are not allowed in
       the Basin. This policy was agreed for good reasons, but now seriously hampers the
       realisation of the potential of the Canal as a unique tourist route into the heart of the
       City. Control and management would have to be tight, but the benefits to all of
       bringing residential boats to the Basin for short periods are clear.

3.25   It is clear from the information provided by staff that many of the operational team
       practices have not been fundamentally reviewed since the major changes to the Canal
       operation took place. This is not the place to analyse minor detail, but the Review
       team recommends that the management of the Leisure and Museums Unit reviews all
       work practice in the next six months, and assesses them against the new aims and
       objectives once they are adopted. In particular the operation of the two locks and the
       Countess Wear bridges should be closely reviewed. In the case of the latter the team
       believes that both operation and maintenance are the responsibility of the County
       Council, on the grounds that the latter owns the bridge and has the obligation to
       operate it when traffic on the Canal requires passage.

3.26   Only recently have staff considered technological improvements for casual users,
       rather than for boats. Generally speaking canoeists and others must take the Canal as
       they find it. For example there are very few facilities for them to put their craft in the
       water, or store them.. A few such investments in this field, and for casual tourists and
       local users, would improve the image of the Canal and help it achieve its potential.
       New signage and interpretative material would be of most benefit.

3.27   Paradoxically the Council should also consider investment in the boating
       infrastructure. One of the main barriers to use by visiting boats is the laborious
       passage from Turf to the Basin. Many Canal users will be used to the “do it yourself”
       ethos which prevails on most inland canals, where boat crews open and shut locks
       themselves. Turf Lock and the Double Lock are larger than inland locks, and the
       former is tidal. It does not seem conceivable that users could be allowed to close
       Bridge Road whenever they happened to reach it, especially as the process would take
       a lot longer for a single crew member who had to disembark, open the bridges, take
       the boat through and then return to close them again.

3.28   However all the locks could be fitted with remote control mechanisms operated from
       a central control point, covered by closed circuit television cameras, while the minor
       bridges could be operated by boat crew. The installation of such equipment would
       cost at least £200,000, and possibly a great deal more.

3.29   Alternatively the Council could contract with the operators of the Turf and Double
       Locks hotels to supervise their respective locks. Canal staff believe also that their
       presence on site may be crucial in the event of a failure of any kind, which might
       leave for example the lock gates at Turf jammed open.

3.30   Neither of these initiatives would however speed up the passage of boats, and would
       probably slow most of them down.

3.31   It is unlikely that the Council would wish to invest heavily in new plant or
       infrastructure for the Canal without significant income improvement. None of the
       above improvements will yield much income, and so need more detailed evaluation.

3.32   Recommendations

       The Review Team recommends:

       that a thoroughgoing review of all operational practices be undertaken by the Leisure
       and Museums Unit, including the alternative operation of major locks and bridges

       that improvements to the infrastructure for informal recreation be developed and
       brought forward as appropriate

3.33   Sustainable Development

3.34   There are ways of achieving modest increased income to the Canal but these are
       directly related to small capital expenditure. For example, providing pontoons in
       Turf Basin could produce additional income with an actual pay back of approximately
       10% over a 10 year period, the lifespan of the equipment.. It would, however,
       increase the numbers of boats and potentially a number of these might well be
       prepared to travel up to the basin head and River Quay, were such options available to
       them, and with a reason for them to go there.

3.35   The advent of the new boat laying up area, , also offers the Council an opportunity to
       enhance income and usage. Investment in a new facility should be planned to build
       new business, maximise additional income, and capitalise on the Canal‟s existing
       advantages - closeness to the city centre for example. If the Whitewater canoeing
       scheme is also to go ahead, the Council should seek opportunities for economies of
       scale and ancillary income from parking, storage, food and drink etc. Both of these
       initiatives also strengthen the role of the Canal, as well as drawing upon its potential
       for providing recreation resources, and should be strongly supported from the Canal
       point of view. Both would necessitate major changes to working practices. For
       example the management of the Boat Laying up Area would require more staff input
       than the present arrangements. Increased boat use of the Basin would also generate
       more work - mainly in administration, but also in the avoidance of conflict and
       customer relations. In both cases the Canal staff would find themselves in working in
       a retail business environment rather than a technical one as now.

3.36   The only reason for a boat to come up to the Basin is to lay up for the winter. Access
       to the Exeter Quay itself is limited due to poor river depths and in the Winter due to
       high river flows. However in the Summer, additional opportunities might be available
       in both Basin and Quay, albeit this might involve dredging part of the River. Vessels
       are unlikely to make the long journey through from Turf and back again in one day.
       By changing its policy which prevents visitors from sleeping on their boats, and
       promoting the unique experience of travelling up the Exeter Ship Canal, the Council
       could expand usage and tourist income. Experience from other rivers and canals
       shows that with the right facilities, such activity can be markedly increased. The
       ability to moor either in the Canal Basin or river therefore and to sleep aboard need to
       be considered as tools to increase the amount and quality of usage. The Basin
       redevelopment offers an opportunity to incorporate facilities for visiting yachts which

       should be seized, since the redevelopment requires an active and colourful maritime
       scene to achieve its aims.

3.37   The Council should also consider how it can better promote the other benefits of the
       Canal to a range of recreational users. Building more usage in these areas may depend
       on investment in marketing, interpretation and the installation of some infrastructure
       and equipment. In some cases facilities currently provided free may attract a small

             canoeing and rowing: new facilities needed for access to and from the water;
              storage for boats; licence fee to clubs and businesses for access to the river and

             the South West Coast Path which currently „crosses‟ the Exe at
              Starcross/Exmouth - but only in the Summer when the ferry operates. The
              Estuary/Canal could be an attractive spur from it;

             the National Cycle Network - both the City and County Councils have
              endorsed the long distance route from Weymouth to Plymouth, which would
              utilise the river/canal corridor though he detailed alignment has yet to be

             fishing: improve facilities, provide information, hire equipment;

             educational trips, organised by the new Community Outreach section.

3.38   Even those visitors whose activities do not make a direct economic contribution
       towards the facilities they use are likely to bring indirect economic benefits to the
       areas they visit. The value of day and staying visitors to the local economy is
       substantial as the following illustrates:

        day visitor spend in a rural area £11.73;

        sailing visitor spend: £20-£40 per day, therefore £100 per night for the average
         cruise boat;

        cycling visitor: £27 per day.

       It is therefore wise for the Council to consider the promotion of the wider elements of
       the Canal, even if there is no direct initial return.

3.39   Recommendations

       The Review team recommends:

      that the development of the Canal Basin, Whitewater and Boat Laying up Area
      Projects be strongly supported in respect of their use of Canal potential and
      strengthening of the Canal offer

      that the policy on visiting yachts be changed to allow living on board, at the basin or
      on the river, for short periods (in the region of 5-7 days), but with effective
      management controls in place.

      that Leisure and Museums staff work with Economic Development staff to ensure that
      the Canal offer is incorporated in City’s tourism promotions

      that within one year Leisure and Museums staff draw up a Canal Business Plan
      including investment and promotion proposals

      that Canal staff receive training to enable them to adapt to the new market conditions on the

4.1   The Aims of Consultation

      The Council undertook widespread consultation on the Canal, its operation and its
      future. It aimed to consult all the interested parties, of whom there are many, and to
      seek to use the process to achieve a measure of consensus between groups whose
      interests may be thought to conflict. In particular the Council took the opportunity to
      bring together those statutory bodies which have supervisory duties in respect of the
      Canal, and to draw up a Management Plan with a set of shared standards. The team
      recognised that this method does not involve the vast majority of informal users -
      cyclists, walkers, pub visitors etc. - but accepted that it would not be possible to derive
      useful data from any quantitative method. A qualitative approach was the most likely
      to yield useable information.

4.2   Consultees

      The consultees were:
       The staff                     Royal Society for the    Exe Estuary Management
                                     Protection of Birds*     Partnership*
       Exeter Wharf Boatyard*        Devon        Wildlife    Canal and Quay User
                                     Trust*                   Group*
       Exeter Business Forum*        Residents*               Starcross Fishing and
                                                              Cruising Club*
       Environment Agency**    English Nature                 English Heritage**
       Sport England*          Exeter Sea Cadets*             British Waterways**
       Devon County Council** Teignbridge D. C,**
      * Focus Group members
      ** Management Plan group

4.3   Methods of Consultation

      Staff consultation took place at two seminars, when they were able to raise any aspect
      of the service they felt to be relevant. Members of the Review team put particular
      issues to them for their views. Minutes were taken and subsequently circulated to all
      who had taken part.

4.4   The Focus Group consisted largely of representatives of users, or of those who live or
      earn their living on or near the Canal. An independent facilitator led two meetings, at
      which free discussion was encouraged, as well a focus on some of the key issues.
      Both sessions were recorded, and transcripts and summary notes circulated to all
      participants and members of the Review tea. Members of the team also attended both
      sessions and were able to provide information to the participants.

4.5   The management plan group was a working party which focused on the practical
      management and operation of the Canal. British Waterways, although it has no direct
      interest in the Exeter Ship Canal, attended to give expert assistance in technical areas.
      The group approached the Canal from the operational angle, but as is clear from the
      Management Plan the group produced, it addressed all the same issues, and provided
      agreed resolutions to many of them.

4.6   Scope

      As the Canal is a relatively small service it was possible to review every aspect of its
      existence and operation, from days and hours of staff attendance through to major
      investment concepts. Most of the ideas which both groups generated belong in that
      element of the Best Value Review which the management of the Canal will
      implement at officer level. However there were many areas of policy and fundamental
      ethos which the groups dealt with, and which are documented here.

4.7   Focus Group Findings

      The Focus Group members felt the Canal was currently under utilised with the facility
      seen as having great potential. Key issues noted were:-

             scope for increased tourism, which had not been exploited effectively.

             improvements needed to facilities for visiting yachts, such as toilets, showers,
              electrical supply and pontoons.

             provision for making passage through the Canal easier

             the previously submitted plans for the development of the Canal Basin were
              unimaginative, sterile and would not enhance the Canal, albeit that there was
              agreement the area needed development.

             a replacement boat laying up facility was seen as a good source of income

             the Canal should be used for both recreation and conservation

             it was felt that canal management was currently by crisis management and that
              there was little or no forward planning

             the Review of the Canal should not stand in isolation from plans for the

4.8    The Group identified the most serious problems as far as they were concerned, as the
       lack of management, no structured plan for the future, no core function for the Canal
       and a lack of finances. The main attributes were seen as water for leisure use;
       diversity and abundance of wildlife; link between the inner City and the countryside;
       and the potential to contribute to tourism.

4.9    Staff Group Findings

       Comments from the staff groups fell broadly into three main categories:

             Concern over staffing levels - the team has been running two staff short of its
              establishment level for some time, resulting in extensive overtime and agency

             The need for improvements to the facilities provided for boat owners. Both
              the Basin and Turf are seen to be lacking in basic on shore facilities, mooring,
              and adequate dredging. The problems which boat owners who moor at Turf
              and who are unable to reach their vessels to unload them by car were also
              particularly highlighted. Pontoons and mooring facilities along the Canal
              would also increase its winter holding capacity.

             Staff also believe that the Canal suffers from lack of proper publicity, backed
              up by the provision of suitable facilities. The Canal is not achieving its

4.10   Management Plan Group Findings

4.11   The group working on the Management Plan met on four occasions and agreed a
       working document (an index of which is appended to this report). The group worked
       through the headings which a Management Plan would require, and met subsequently
       to review and improve on a text provided by members of the Canal management team.
       The resultant document has a much wider remit than simply resolving any differences
       of approach between the Council and the statutory agencies. It addresses any interest
       which the consultees have, and also provides an ongoing mechanism to deal with
       future issues.

4.12   In particular the process has resulted in an agreement that all the parties will meet
       annually to review the Management Plan and update it, rolling it on for five years on
       each occasion.

4.13   Recommendations

      The Team strongly recommends:

      that the Management Plan process should be given full support and developed to
      further the efficient management of the Canal, its environment and its maintenance,
      with the assistance and agreement of the Council’s partners.

5.1   Performance Benchmarking

5.2   Benchmarking indicators for the Exeter Ship Canal have been difficult to obtain, due
      to the lack of direct comparability between the Exeter facility and any other in the
      Country. However, comparisons have been made with three other Canals that are the
      “best fit” to Exeter and also to river waterways where there are some comparisons.

5.3   Return of income compared to operating costs -

             For the river waterways there is a much higher return compared to Canals.
              This is no doubt due to the fact that natural channels require less maintenance,
              locking etc. The proportion of income compared to operating costs for these is
              respectively 46% to 55%.

             For canals, the figures are respectively 9% for Exeter, and 10%, 12.8% and
              16% for other facilities. It will be seen that the percentage band is in a very
              tight range and while Exeter is at the lowest end of this range, this can perhaps
              be explained in that all three other facilities are natural through routes to
              networks or major areas of water.

5.4   Lock Maintenance Costs

      There is limited information available with only two similar size comparisons for lock
      maintenance. The costs are £10,000 for British Waterways, £10,250 for Exeter and
      £15,000 for the facility. Again, Exeter compares favourably with its grouping.

5.5   Overall maintenance costs.

      British Waterways advise they never make direct comparisons between waterways
      since they find this of almost no benefit given the variations between facilities.
      However, they were asked to give an indication of what they believe would be a
      reasonable maintenance cost for the Exeter Ship Canal per annum. Based on our
      schedule, a figure of £175,000 per annum resulted, which almost exactly equates to
      the cost of the maintenance of the Exeter facility.

5.6   Boat storage facilities.

      Three direct comparisons have been possible with similar facilities in the Exe estuary
      area. One facility has the same charges (ECQT), one is marginally more expensive

       than Exeter‟s (Exmouth), and the third is considerably more expensive by some 50%
       (Retreat). No figures are available for the cost and profitability of such similar

5.7    Boat Storage demand.

       Retreat Boatyard is full as is the Exmouth facility. Within the Exeter Basin ECQT
       provides direct competition for the Council run boat laying up facility. This is full,
       whereas the Exeter facility currently has space available, although only in the water.
       There are a number of reasons for this, including perhaps better security and isolation
       of the ECQT site.

5.8    Cost per boat

       Although the team established that the cost of the Canal per boat is not dissimilar to
       that pertaining on the national network, it is not a practical cost measure because of
       the very small number of boats, and the large degree of ancillary use on the Exeter

5.9    The Review Team concluded, on the basis of the information available, that:

             The costs of running the Canal in terms of income compared to operating costs
              appear to be in line with other facilities.

             Maintenance costs appear comparable so far as can be ascertained.

       Boat laying up facility charges are cheaper than elsewhere and demand appears
       reasonable, but this must be offset against the time taken to come up the Canal, which
       is seen as a distinct inconvenience.

5.10   Process Benchmarking

5.11   The team found the concept of process benchmarking much more fruitful in respect of
       the Canal. It is proposed to set up a partnership with British Waterways, who will
       provide consultancy on the whole range of operational and maintenance issues which
       the Council faces. In the creation of the Management Plan this proved to be very
       helpful to all parties. As there are very few other canals in the region, even the
       representatives of the statutory bodies with duties on the Canal and its setting are
       working in an isolated situation. The introduction of experience and expertise from a
       national perspective has assisted everyone to focus on what will work and what will
       provide the optimum solution in any given situation.

5.12   Much of the Management Plan is a practical benchmarking manual.

6.1    Delivery of the Service

6.2   Currently the whole of the service is operated by the in-house team, with support from
      the City Council‟s Technical Services and Estates units. Some maintenance work
      requiring heavy plant is bought in externally and the Grounds Maintenance Unit
      undertakes grass cutting.

6.3   Analysis of the work of the staff shows that over 80% of their work relates to the
      Canal, with the remainder devoted to the River and Estuary. The Canal work divides
      equally between operation and maintenance. “Operation” is defined as assisting the
      passage of boats from one end of the Canal to the other, and includes locking, masting
      and demasting, craning in and out, and general tending to vessels in the water.
      “Maintenance” is the care of the Canal fabric and the equipment needed to operate and
      maintain the Canal. In its turn maintenance divides into two sub-categories -
      maintenance necessary for boating and maintenance necessary for the amenity role of
      the Canal. (The word “amenity” represents the value of the Canal to all other users,
      whether their purpose is organised or casual recreation.)

6.4   The staff carry out the operational work when users require it - mainly during the
      Spring and Autumn when boats leave and enter the Canal. The Canal and River
      Manager programmes maintenance to fit into this schedule, carrying out the larger
      items in the Winter when there is no boating activity.

6.5   The Review considered a number of alternative ways to procure the service. These

            Split the service between other Council services to match the groups of tasks

            Employ an expert agency, such as British Waterways, to provide advice and
             support, but keep the operation in house

            Form a partnership or trust

            Advertise a short term franchise or contract

            Advertise a long term lease

6.6   The Council could choose to treat the two main areas of work, operation and
      maintenance, differently, as there is no inherent link between them, other than that
      both are necessary to the running of the Canal. In the light of the findings on the
      nature of the Canal, it could be said that maintenance is now the more important of the
      two, since it supports activities on a much wider scale than just boat passage.

6.7   The Review assessed each option for alternative delivery against four criteria:

            potential to save money or generate income

            potential better to meet corporate objectives

            intrinsic efficiency and effectiveness

             superiority over existing arrangements

6.8    Split the Service between other Council Services

6.9    There are several ways of doing this. The amenity function could be easily combined
       with the operation of the Valley Park which surrounds the upper part of the canal, or
       combined with the management of other tourist related amenities, like the
       Underground Passages or St Nicholas Priory. Either Contracts Unit or Technical
       Services could directly manage maintenance quite separately from the day to day
       running of the canal. The boating related operation could be run as a separate
       business account within the Leisure Services Section, showing only the direct income
       taken for use of the canal against direct expenditure. Benefits of this approach may

             Greater focus on individual task groups as part of other services, which could
              lead to new activities being set up on and around the canal

             Clarity of objectives and budgets

             Creation of new synergies to replace the lost benefit of running all three
              groups together

             Ability easily to outsource one part of the service if it proves to be
              underperforming, without putting the Council‟s core interests in jeopardy

6.10   The disadvantages are:

             Potential for confusion which may threaten safety standards
             Conflict of activities
             Vulnerable to poor co-ordination
             Different levels of priority from different managers

6.11   Financial Projections

       The immediate effect of this course of action would be to reduce the visible
       operational cost of the canal. It would not of itself reduce the cost to the Council.
       However the ability to focus more clearly on core activities should enable the team to
       improve its marketing and increase income by £10,000 - £20,000.

6.12   Employ an Expert Agency

6.13   Exeter has only one canal. British Waterways has scores, and has a vast pool of
       expertise in managing and maintaining them. The company has indicated that it
       would be prepared to provide a consultancy service for the City Council on all aspects
       of the operation, costing approximately £10,000 and funded from existing budgets of
       the two directorates. This would be particularly useful in negotiating with English
       Nature and the Environment Agency, relations with whom have been difficult in the

       past because of conflicting objectives. BW work with the two agencies everywhere
       and have experience of managing these conflicts and agreeing solutions to them. It is
       possible that there are other agencies who would be interested in bidding for such a
       contract, although it is hard to imagine any which would have the experience and
       expertise of BW.

6.14   The key benefits of employing an expert operational consultant would be:

             Wide spread of experience

             Objective view of ECC policy and practice

             Credibility with other agencies

             Potential to reduce net cost

       The possible disadvantages would be:

             May not recoup expenditure

             Generic approach may not work in local circumstances

6.15   Form a Partnership or Trust

6.16   In theory the City Council could transfer some of its risk and responsibility by forming
       an independent body to undertake the operation of the canal - or of some part of the
       canal function as it currently stands. Members of such a partnership could include
       some of the agencies with an interest, such as the Environment Agency, although in
       practice it seems unlikely that any regulatory body would compromise its authority by
       joining a partnership which involved it in management activity. However users of the
       canal, including the recreation organisations could be partners.

6.17   There are several vehicles which might suit the operation of the canal. They include a
       company limited by guarantee, in which the partners are shareholders, an informal
       partnership, or a legal agreement. None would allow the City Council to shed a great
       deal of risk, because of the legal status of the canal itself and the Council‟s position as
       owner, but all could create new ideas and impetus through the involvement of non-
       municipal organisations. Joint partners could include Exeter Canal and Quay Trust
       and British Waterways.

6.18   Advantages of a Trust or Partnership:

             Some devolution of risk and responsibility

             Involvement of stakeholders


               ECC must keep in touch with performance

               Cost could go up or down

               Some partners will exercise power without responsibility

6.19     Advertise a Short Term Franchise or Contract

6.20     This is the solution which has worked well in many leisure areas, helping to drive
         down costs and improve customer service where it was poor. Full outsourcing is
         usually considered where the in-house management is performing poorly and has little
         chance of improving, or where there is a need for a considerably more entrepreneurial
         approach, possibly including capital investment. In this case it would be possible to
         franchise the operation of the canal while keeping control of the maintenance and
         ancillary areas, if the protection of the asset was considered to be a key element.

6.21     Possible benefits of outsourcing in this way:

               Cost control for City Council

               Potential growth into income producing areas of operation

               Risk reduction

               Possibly improved customer service

6.22     Disadvantages:

          Vulnerability to the failure of the company

        No established market to compare with.

          Conflict with environmental agencies of commercial approach

6.23     Financial Projections

         A short term contract is unlikely to trigger major investment from a contractor, so
         reductions in cost to the City are going to come from marketing led growth in usage.
         The City would probably have to provide some form of base guarantee for the
         operator and accept a percentage of the increased income. This could bring cost
         reductions of between £10,000 and £30,000 per annum during the first contract
         period. With experience of the market this could perhaps increase in future contract
         periods, if the physical and safety standards are preserved by the City Council.

6.24     Advertise a Long Term Lease

6.25   At the present time, the Canal has a significant deficit budget and any lessee with a
       long lease would need to either receive an annual payment or a large capital sum to
       offset future liabilities. The lessee would also have to be a significant covenant as
       the Council could not risk passing over liability to a third party where there was a risk
       that default would occur.

6.26   Accordingly there are only a limited number of possible partners with such a
       covenant, who have the knowledge and expertise to deal with such management and
       who would be willing to take this on. In reality there is only one contender and that is
       British Waterways.

6.27   Discussions have taken place with British Waterways and they agree that in its current
       uncertain management position, with no clear management plan in place and with
       various amendments to boat laying up, and Canal Basin, in progress, this would not
       necessarily be the best time for British Waterways to take on or to consider such an
       operation. This is not to say they would not be prepared to do so, but it has been
       clearly acknowledged between the parties that any dowry to them would at present
       have significant contingency sums included within it to allow for the high levels of
       work necessary to resolve these issues to allow for the uncertainties that might result
       from them.

6.28   Accordingly, the best course of action is to delay this option, but to engage British
       Waterways as a consultant to work on areas of difficulty, improve net income, and put
       the management plan in place. This should happen at once. The Council should then
       resolve to review this option towards the end of an initial three year period, at which
       time the relative benefits to the Authority and British Waterways could be considered
       further. In the event that a long lease was be granted, the key advantages could be:-

              long term transfer of risk, including day to day operations
             opportunity for investment by operator
             improved customer service with a more commercial approach

6.29   The drawbacks could be:-

             loss of control over asset
             high cost to ECC either as a dowry payment, in kind or as a revenue cost
             limited acceptable operators and therefore competition in the market.

6.30   Financial Projections:

       At this stage, these are impossible to quantify accurately. The approach British
       Waterways take is to identify the costs over a 60 year period and then to capitalise
       these to the present day value. This will result in the dowry payment they require as
       part of any lease arrangement to them. Alternatives to a capital payment could be
       transfer of property and income producing investments.

6.31   Recommendations on delivery of the service

6.32   It appears that none of the alternative options provides distinct advantages for the
       authority, with the exception of the employment of an expert adviser. None carries
       the guarantee of substantial improvements in the financial situation of the Canal, and
       the benefits do not in any case outweigh the risks or the costs of making any
       substantial changes at this time. The employment of the adviser has the advantage of
       being capable of being terminated at relatively short notice.

6.33   The City is about to see major changes to the Canal and its setting however. The
       long-awaited investment programme at the Basin seems likely to begin. This will
       trigger a capital scheme to provide a new boat laying up area, and there is the
       possibility that a whitewater canoe course will follow. These developments, if
       achieved and correctly designed, will transform the Canal from a fairly low-key
       tourism and recreation asset into a focus for managed activity at a much higher
       intensity. The Review team believes that the time to test the market for alternative
       service delivery will be once this investment is complete. This will also allow time
       for the operational team and other colleagues in the authority to deliver the minor
       recommendations of this review, on general policy, promotion and management

6.34   The Review team recommends:

       the Canal service be retained in-house, and managed by the Leisure and Museums
       Unit as now. Once the Basin and Whitewater schemes are complete and other
       improvements in place, the Council should consider again whether market testing is
       necessary. In the interim the City Council should engage British Waterways to
       provide expert advice and process benchmarking.

7.1    The Issues List

       The team gathered together a long list of some 60 issues raised by the Focus, Staff and
       Management Plan Groups. Many of these are simply opinions on the way the Canal is
       run, while at the other end of the spectrum are proposals for substantial capital
       investment. It is difficult to prioritise in these circumstances, so the Team defined a
       short list of 7 key issues, which contain all the others. As might be expected these
       issues overlap with each other in a very dynamic fashion.

7.2    Key Issues

       The Key Issues defined by the team are:

             The Future of the Canal

             Environmental Management

             Maintenance of the Fabric

             Promoting the Canal and Managing Increasing Usage

             Planning for Capital Development

             Management Plan

             Managing the Service - Standards, Practices, Options

7.3    The Future of the Canal

7.4    It is clear from the Challenge section that there are misconceptions about the role of
       the Canal, and its potential contribution to its objectives. While the Staff Group
       identified mainly issues relating to boating, the Focus and Management Plan Groups
       picked out a range of subjects across the environmental and recreational spectrum.
       Even a brief analysis shows that the informal and casual users of the Canal far
       outweigh those who pay directly for its services. Such use is almost by definition
       impossible to quantify. It is certainly impossible to weigh its value against those
       elements of the Canal service which can and regularly have been counted: number of
       passages, the cost, the direct income.

7.5    It is true that a large proportion of the expenditure is devoted to the traditional uses of
       the Canal, and that there is a case for considering ending them, since that would not
       affect the more recent ones. In the case of the dry land uses, cycling, walking,
       jogging, this is probably the case. However the water based recreations, canoeing,
       rowing, angling, do depend on the maintenance of the waterway roughly to the present
       standards. Moreover it is the presence of boats which lend the Basin and Turf in
       particular their character: there is no doubt that the major refurbishment of the Basin
       area due to start soon would be considerably less attractive if there were no boats to
       decorate the scene.

7.6    As a scenic tourism asset the Canal also has to preserve its character and the majority
       of its technical equipment and buildings. It can accommodate considerably more
       boats than it currently does, at no extra cost, if promoted in the right way.

7.7    The Canal is also an integral part of the Valley Park. It does not need to be in water to
       play this role, nor does it require the level of technical support which is currently
       necessary. However it provides a genuine contrast to the less managed landscape of
       the adjacent river.

7.8    The Canal is a broad based recreation tourism asset, and the Council should consider
       it in this light when setting policy and budgets. It should take into account all the
       various uses of the Canal and its corridor and seek to balance and manage them.

7.9    Environmental Management

7.10   Although the subject of the Canal and its effects, detrimental or otherwise, was high
       on the agenda of most consultees, only a small number of actual issues was raised by
       them. The alleged poor condition of banks was in fact the only criticism, while other
       comments reinforced the need for care when carrying out maintenance operations.

       While this has in the past been recognised as a point of disagreement, the
       Management Plan is designed specifically as a framework to prevent this happening
       in the future. The key element of this issue is partnership between the environmental
       agencies and the Council to achieve balance between realistic usage and the
       conservation, if not enhancement of the environment, especially below the Countess
       Wear bridge, where the Canal is part of a highly protected habitat.

7.11   The management of vehicle use at Turf is an issue which the Council has yet to
       resolve. There is an inherent conflict between the rights possessed by the tenant of the
       hotel, the needs of boat owners who keep their vessels there, and the planning
       regulations in respect of parking. The Council has tried frequently to control the
       problem without complete success.

7.12   The other issues raised were about the enhancement of the habitat. This would require
       investment, and probably further controls on use, which the Review does not think is
       appropriate at this time. There are no suggestions that any current practice or use is
       actively damaging the environment or degrading the habitat, but it is important that
       the present balance is maintained. The Council should welcome enhancement
       projects by other agencies, statutory or voluntary, but should consider their effect on
       the balance of use.

7.13   Maintenance of the Fabric

7.14   Some consultees criticised the Council for what they considered the ad hoc approach
       to the maintenance of the Canal. We consider that that is an unjustified criticism, as
       there is a maintenance plan, although like all such plans it has often been overtaken by

7.15   The Team believes that the Management Plan referred to in more detail below is the
       key to good practice in the future maintenance of the Canal. Other agencies have an
       interest, which the Council must accommodate, and the Management Plan vehicle is a
       good way of achieving consensus, as well as being an excellent framework for
       decision making within the Council. As support to the AIM process, the Management
       Plan provides justification of and strategic direction to the large expenditure which the
       asset requires.

7.16   Promoting the Canal and Managing Increasing Usage

7.17   All groups of consultees felt that the Canal had considerable potential. Not all of
       them appreciated the cost of realising that potential, or the extent to which increasing
       some uses would upset the balance which currently exists. The Focus Group noted
       that before any expansion could begin, it was important for the Council to adopt aims
       and objectives, and be clear about what was wanted from the Canal.

7.18   Work carried out by the Tourism Section shows that the markets the Canal can serve
       are growing. Certainly the informal recreation sector is growing, and there is likely to
       be considerable demand for the type of facilities which are already provided, and for
       those which are proposed, especially the Whitewater and boat laying up projects.

7.19   The promotion of the Canal as part of the tourism offer of the City would require joint
       working by the Leisure and Museums and Economy and Tourism Units.

7.20   The effect of increased use on the Canal and its environment would depend to a large
       extent on where its impact fell. Upstream of Countess Wear there would be little
       problem. Most of the surroundings are owned or managed by the City Council, and
       there is reasonably good access at several points. At the Basin and Quay there are
       many opportunities for tourism spend, and access to the City Centre, while not easy, is
       good as can be expected in a historic city.

7.21   Downstream there is potential for damage, but it is unlikely that increased use will
       occur there. Even a large number of extra boats will not affect the surrounding
       habitats. Nor will more walking or cycling if it is kept to the vicinity of the towpath.
       Only the promotion of bird watching or access onto the marshes would have
       substantial detrimental effect, and it is not proposed that this be part of any
       promotional exercise.

7.22   Planning for Capital Development

7.23   Future investment must be based on realistic and relevant strategic planning.
       Agreement on the nature of the Canal and what the Council wants it to be is essential
       to inform all decisions on development. The Management Plan contains a framework
       for these decisions, acknowledging that they are rightly made by the City Council.

7.24   The consultation process threw up many development opportunities, largely to do with
       investment in better facilities for visiting yachts, and enhanced passage. In the light of
       the changing perception of the nature of the Canal the Council perhaps needs to
       consider recreation based development to enhance the value of the facility for a wider
       range of users.

7.25   The balance of use is again the key to future development.

7.26   Management Plan

7.27   The Council has invested a great deal of management resource into the development
       of a management plan which will serve the needs of the Council itself, and of the
       agencies who have responsibilities for aspects of the Canal‟s operation and
       maintenance. The Plan now exists in a developing draft, which has met with
       considerable approval from the partners. Further work continues and the full plan
       should be complete by the end of July.

7.28   It will be updated annually by a forum of the key partners, and informed by ongoing
       consultation with the River and Canal Users Forum. The partners did not favour the
       creation of a Joint Advisory Committee, preferring rather to keep the informal
       consultation process used to set up the plan in the first place.

7.29   Managing the Service

7.30   Most of the issues raised by consultees, including by the staff, related to minor issues
       of detail which fall within the power of the management to resolve. They include
       issues of training, operational practice and minor development.

7.31   In addition the changes proposed by the Review, together with those brought about by
       capital development on the Basin and the Whitewater course, will require the
       operational team to review all their work practices, and to prioritise them. A great
       deal of analysis on what actually happens on the ground exists, and will need to be
       reviewed in the light of the aims and objectives, once accepted, and the acknowledged
       changing role of the Canal.


    That the contents of the report be noted and that the Committee indicate any
    views on the reports findings and recommendations.





    Local Government (Access to information) Act 1985 (as amended)
    Background papers used in compiling this report are held by:
    Kate Oldroyd (Best Value Administrator)


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