Report on RCTA/CRT liaison meeting, Brindley Place, Birmingham, 5th December 2019.
During the Birmingham Christmas Floating Market Ronni Payne, myself and Alison Tuck met with Gareth Stephens (National Business Boating Manager) and Ruth Noon (Business Boating Manager Midlands) with the objective of resetting our relationship with CRT. We went with a prepared list of points to negotiate with the aim of re-establishing a set agenda so that effective dialogue and continuity could be maintained. Naturally, as each future agenda heading was agreed, it was impossible not to start a discussion as to where we currently stand with each issue so a huge amount of ground was covered and this will be revisited as the formal meetings start next year. It was good to have Alison present as she knows the early history of Association and is passionate about the proper representation of roving traders. Ronni focused mainly on markets and events and I was working to get the agenda agreed.
These were the decisions that were made:
- There will be two formal meetings between CRT and RCTA each year that will have a fixed agenda and will be minuted.
- The meetings will be held in September (after the main trading period is over and before traders take up seasonal employment) and late February or early March (before RCTA’s AGM)
- They will be attended by Ruth Noon and Tom Freeland from CRT and the RCTA chair and the RCTA/CRT liaison volunteer as a minimum. Other members can attend if they wish or according to the agenda issues under discussion.
- Further meetings may be arranged as required.
- These arrangements will be formalised in a partnership agreement.
These are the fixed agenda headings which were agreed:
- Minutes of the previous meeting
- Matters arising
- Update on the number of roving trader licences issued (we learned that a breakdown into more specific trader types was not possible but was thought desirable by CRT)
and conditions issues
- Issues members have asked the Association to raise with CRT
- Details on the Council street licence issue still outstanding*
- Issues CRT would like RCTA to feedback to members
market and event issues
- Practical issues requiring resolution
- Update on diary of planned RCTA events
- Updating CRT web site with RCTA events
- Charging strategy feedback*
Calendar of events
- CRT events strategy feedback*
- National partnership agreement*
on partnership projects which RCTA have put forward earlier for
- ‘Artist and artisans – makers on the cut’*
- A project to develop the Birmingham Christmas market in conjunction with CRT and other stake holders*
- Any other business
- Date of next meeting
The points above marked with an asterix were being discussed with CRT by Ronni, Sue Meades and myself at around this time last year but the narrative has been lost as a result of the recent changes in CRT staff and their new management/delivery arrangements. During the discussion we received informal updates on some of these issues but I believe they should be left on the agenda for formal discussion and minuting at our first meeting otherwise we will be immediately returning to the ad hoc ways of the past.
We discussed at length the decision to move roving traders into the private boating category on the CRT Council. Gareth and Ruth were made aware of the strength of feeling about this decision and it was finally agreed that it was not an appropriate item for the agenda of these meetings and Ronni is going to take it forward at another level.
My own impressions formed during the meeting were generally very positive. I believe we achieved what we set out to do. I was concerned (but not surprised) by the weight big value projects in terms of income generation dominated Gareth’s various interventions during the meeting although he clearly accepts that roving traders are bringing a range of important non-monetary values or benefits to the waterways. I did get the feeling that we must be a long way down their list of priorities but this made me appreciate the role RCTA has in not allowing roving traders to be forgotten. Just by joining the organisation and showing joint solidarity with your fellow traders you will be having an influence on the way CRT view the Association and roving traders generally.
My biggest concern arising from the meeting was that RCTA is going to have to build links not only nationally but locally with each region as well. This is where the focus has moved and I was left with the very strong impression that each region might develop its own strategy in relation to roving traders and that this could be difficult for us to manage if they ‘forget’ to discuss this with RCTA first. We may need regional and hopefully improved versions of me in my volunteer liaison role in the very near future. However, Ronni also saw opportunities here and she has the experience to see where or when these opportunities can be grasped. Certainly, if you have concerns about how CRT are dealing with roving traders in your region, particularly in relation to mooring restrictions or strategies, don’t hesitate to flag this up by contacting Ronni or myself- we need to know!
RCTA/CRT liaison volunteer