The Canal & River Trust launched its new logo in May

The Canal & River Trust launched its promised re-brand and new logo in May – followed by assurances from Chief Executive Richard Parry that despite the new emphasis on public wellbeing, “boats and boaters will always be at the heart of what the Trust is for”.

The Trust sees the launch as a major success and a “cost effective roll-out” managed to achieve over 100 pieces of media publicity. These included national TV, radio and press coverage for its message that “waterways are uniquely placed to make a significant contribution to improving the wellbeing of the nation” – citing deprivation, obesity, stress, anxiety and physical inactivity as issues where the ability to take a walk alongside a canal or river can help.

It is no secret that the hope is to make the case for continued public funding for CRT after the end of the current contract in 2027 by demonstrating that the waterways satisfy the Government’s wider priorities. Even though the Trust told Canal Boat at the time of its launch six years ago that it foresaw a requirement for continued public funding beyond the end of the initial contract (albeit probably at a lower level, given that it anticipated that by then ten percent of total income would come from ‘charitable’ sources such as donations), it is now suggested that Government department Defra has suffered a form of collective amnesia on the matter.

However Mr Parry accepted that in stressing these issues, “some boaters felt our message ignored the core purpose of the canal and river navigations – that is, for boats to use”. He said that “the majority of our annual expenditure (well over £100m per annum) goes into keeping the waterways operational and safe for boats”, but that “it really is in everyone’s interest that we seek to address and engage a wider and different audience”. And in response to widespread criticism of the new logo, CRT told Canal Boat that the simple circular design was aimed at being used in places such as on social media and tourist road signs like the National Trust logo, with the aim of it becoming as well-known.

Although the new logo was very much in evidence at Crick Show, the Trust maintains that in a £60,000 exercise funded from the existing publicity budgets (CRT has dismissed allegations of a cost running into millions as unfounded), it will take some time for rsignage and uniforms to be changed as they become due in coming years, rather than in a bulk replacement.

…and slims down

Also going live recently was the Canal & River Trust’s restructure and slimming-down of its senior management, which came into effect on 4 June.

The heads of the six new regions (replacing 10 former regional waterway units) having already been appointed (see CB July), four of the six volunteer chairs of the Regional Advisory Boards are now also in place. These bodies replace the former waterways Partnerships, but with more emphasis on local wellbeing benefits (in line with the new direction of the Trust, see above) rather than the fundraising aims of their predecessors – and just one of the existing Chairs has moved to one of the new roles.

The heads are Sir William Atkinson (London & South East), a Trustee of several charities and former government advisor; David Hagg (South West), Chief Executive of Stroud District Council involved in the Cotswold Canals restoration; Anil Majithia (East Midlands), Chair of Voluntary Action Leicestershire; and Walter Menzies (North West), former chair of CRT’s Manchester, Pennine and Potteries partnership.

Meanwhile CRT has told Canal Boat that 16 existing senior managers were leaving, and while there have been some new external appointments, the net reduction of senior paid roles is “in double figures”.

Image(s) provided by: