Saturday, 26 July 2014

The Easy Way Out

There has been much discussion recently of the problems caused by untended vegetation on the canals. Concern is that it is dangerous for two reasons.  Where it obscures the navigation, a tight bend or a bridge for instance, the chance of collision is increased. Where it overhangs the channel it also causes damage to boats, equipment and injures those driving the boat. Despite the veg pledge of a few years ago the situation is deteriorating: it seems to have died a death like the dredge-pledge. 
It has been  suggested that C&RT is reluctant to cut hedges for fear of contravening the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. According to RSPB, the act refers to "wilfully disturbing nesting birds" which seems very sound to me.   Birds do not nest all year but trees and bushes grow all year. So it would be quite possible to trim offending hedges out of the nesting season.  To a recent enquiry regarding  the exact legal position, the RSPB responded:
 "It's a grey area. If you are satisfied there aren't any nesting birds there, it's okay to cut it back any time. And if you feel there's a safety issue for humans, it's okay to cut it back—even if there are nesting birds, although you'd need to prove that it's a safety issue."
This reminds me of an experience we had a few years ago.
The childcare company M worked for had nurseries all over the country and after we moved onto Gecko she would  offer her services to the local nursery when we moored for the winter. To work with children a CRB check has to be made every three years.This has to be paid for and there are companies around who will administer this process for employers who do not have the expertise or staff in house. The childcare company started insisting that M had a CRB check for every nursery she worked in.  When we were in Bath, for instance, she worked at three different locations.  These requests came from the agency employed by the HR department. The requests became more frequent to a point that was ridiculous. Any question to the employer was referred to the agency who, presumably. were making good money inventing work.  I contacted the Home Office who confirmed that CRB is valid for three years and covers any similar occupation regardless of location.
This is similar to the C&RT situation - It is easier for inexperienced or ignorant staff to hide behind an over-zealous and erroneous interpretation of the law than it is to exercise any kind of skill or judgement. 


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