Notes of a meeting between Sarah Brown Development and Engagement Manager at CRT and Andrew Mills and Ronni Payne held at Stoke Bruerne on 11th October 2018.
This meeting was the outcome of a letter sent by Andrew Mills to Gareth Stevens National Boating Business Manager and forwarded to Sarah Brown Development and Engagement Manager at CRT by Ronni Payne requesting a review of liaison arrangements with CRT following the retirement of our current liaison officer Peter Moore Business Boating Manager (Midlands) in 2019. RCTA were concerned that following the changes at CRT with regard to their purpose and mission we needed to identify where the best place within their organisation was for us to drive forward our own agenda.
The meeting was very comprehensive and covered how RCTA and CRT could work together more effectively. From CRT’s perspective the meeting was about exploring whether RCTA would be a suitable organisation for them to have a partnership agreement. From our point of view we were exploring what the benefits of such an arrangement might be. The outcome of the meeting was that Sarah Brown would report back to her fellow regional managers and that there would be a further meeting to establish a partnership agreement.
As stated earlier the meeting was very comprehensive so the following points are cobbled together from the discussion not necessarily in the order discussed and some points may have been missed.
1. CRT wish to establish a national agreement with key partners:
* CRT are aiming to build partnerships with organisations which would help them achieve their aims and objectives.
* The nature of partnership would be different between commercial, corporate, public, charity, not for profit and voluntary organisations.
* CRT confirm that RCTA would seem to be a natural partner organisation.
* CRT recognise we are a voluntary organisation and are not a commercial organisation
* RCTA were in a position to help CRT achieve some of its purposes as follows:
* promote their branding and help grow awareness of Trust
* build use of towpath
* assist broader development activities
* through joint volunteer projects (as in RCTA volunteers working with CRT volunteers at events, markets and other projects)
* by linking into educational activities (i.e. demonstrate canal crafts etc).
* by linking into other CRT events to make them worthwhile (i.e. ‘towpath doggy day’ event)
2. CRT were developing an ‘events strategy’:
* CRT were reviewing the relationship between events held on the waterways and CRT’s purpose and objectives.
* CRT recognises that events were not arranged/managed consistently across regions.
* Their aim is to standardise approach
* They wish to simplify booking arrangements and to make bureaucracy more efficient/cost effective.
* CRT are looking to build a diary of events with third parties that will identify where events will be held up to at least two years into the future.
* They are aiming with CRT events to be building a diary at least 2 years ahead.
* They anticipate that this will enable them to build CRT involvement into an event in a properly managed way – the aim is to plan ahead and implement pre-planning.
* They are aiming to avoid clashes between events.
* The events diary will enable them to promote partners such as RCTA using their web site well ahead of the event.
* Events strategy will be managed by the Development and Engagement Team
* This means best place for RCTA/CRT liaison is with this team with technical advise from Boating Business Managers where necessary.
* Sarah Brown thinks the best approach is to be linked in regionally rather than having a national approach. In other words, RCTA would liaise with Development and Engagement Officers in the regions where markets/events were held. This meant problems could be identified and dealt with regionally/locally which would be more effective than having one person dealing with things nationally (which is the current situation with Peter Moore).
3. Charging Strategy
* CRT are working on implementing a charging strategy for waterside events.
* The level of charge would depend on the type of organisation and the type of relationship they had with CRT.
* Large corporates promoting themselves or a commercial money making event/festival/ticket entry type event would pay a fee to CRT.
* Voluntary and not for profit organisations with a partnership agreement with CRT such as IWA, RCTA,fishing associations etc. would not be charged a fee for holding an event. Ronni Payne heard this differently from Andrew Mills and believed the situation sounded more open as in RCTA or voluntary organisations might or could be charged. A situation we would need to monitor closely.
* Roving traders may need to pay a fee to attend major or national CRT events where anticipated footfall was high.
* Other events where there was strong partnership involvement or a requirement to encourage traders to attend to make the event more worthwhile would have no charge.
* CRT recognise that RCTA members were mostly micro businesses and could not afford market fees beyond a certain very low level.
4. Issues that we identified during the discussion and outcomes:
* RCTA recognised that the events strategy would help traders make a cruising plan well in advance.
* RCTA recognised that the events strategy would build in resilience into the trading activity of those who need to keep trading regularly because it was an essential economic requirement of their business plan. They would know where they could go well in advance to maximise their trading opportunities.
* RCTA recognised that key objectives of the events strategy would help us to arrange our markets and events more effectively/efficiently.
* RCTA would need to find a way of responding to the events strategy perhaps with regional volunteers liaising with regional officers (i.e. like Karl Wagner is looking after southern markets, he would be this region’s contact point perhaps??).
* RCTA would need to have procedures to co-ordinate agreements, activities and decisions taken separately across the regions by regional RCTA representatives.
* CRT are seeking to work together with RCTA more effectively and we would need to respond to this opportunity which may mean further demands on volunteer time/commitment
* CRT want to promote RCTA more effectively using their web site and other resources such as signage. They will want ‘content’ for their web site. Who/how to manage?
* RCTA understanding is that the partnership agreement is an annual application and that success in achieving a partnership arrangement is dependent on how the partner organisation complies with CRT agreements and terms and conditions. Where the latter are not followed or where there are regular infringements of the terms and conditions the agreement would not be renewed. It’s a stick and carrot arrangement but for RCTA members who do their best to follow the terms and conditions, mostly if not all carrot.
* We stressed that RCTA is not able to or does not want to police trader activity and that this will need to remain an aspect of CRT enforcement activity. However, RCTA does support a fair trading approach for all roving traders and that rogue trading activity will undermine the reputation of all traders. In consequence, RCTA will continue to promote good practice and encourage compliance with CRT terms and conditions using its web site and the web site FAQs. While at markets all traders commit to following CRT terms and conditions.
* Sarah Brown will feedback to her colleagues on the Development and Engagement team and arrange a further meeting to:
* put together a national agreement between CRT and RCTA
* identify aspirations for 2019
* discuss concerns
* discuss opportunities and plan ahead
* Slightly off or ahead of the agenda Andrew Mills suggested a useful staring point might be a national ‘open workshop/studio’ project where RCTA artists, makers and craftspeople opened their boat shops on one weekend in the year at agreed locations across the waterways regions and this would be promoted nationally by CRT on their web site. Similar to county wide arts ‘open studio’ events held across the country. Sarah Brown indicated that this might link in with CRT’s ‘open door’ events.
Andrew Mills (CRT.RCTA@outlook.com)