Here’s an interesting one from fellow Brownhills historian David Hodgkinson. David has been musing on the fate of a piece of public art erected at Catshill Junction as part of the canal towpath renovations a few years ago.
I must admit, this is an artwork I’ve never liked, and don’t see the point of particularly. It’s fine detail is lost in being set too far away from passers by, and I’ve always suspected the money invested could have been better employed elsewhere in the project.
David, however, does raise some interesting questions. I’d take issue with a couple of assertions; I’m not sure we’re anything like as bankrupt as we’re being told, and secondly, the scrub around the artwork was trimmed at least once this season. This may well have been by local volunteers, as I know the Clayhanger Kid (Brian Stringer) and some friends litter pick the common voluntarily on Sundays, so it may well have been their handiwork.
Finally, the whole charitable-trust thing for a hived-off British Waterways is concerning me greatly. British Waterways were never an efficient, well run organisation (note the abandoned, brand new dredger abandoned at Ogley Junction for several years now), but they did get stuff done. In recent weeks, the Canals and Rivers Trust has faced it’s first major test – a huge breach on the Trent and Mersey, and they’re already passing the hat. Some things are too important to be left to charity.
This doesn’t bode well to me.
Dear Brownhills Bob,
The “Cycle of Life” at Catshill Junction was unveiled on 12 December 2005 so it has seen a few summers by now.
If the monument is not being actively managed, should I become a champion of the ‘Cameron Big Society’ and tidy it up myself? If I cut my finger off or fall in the canal in the process, who can I sue? If I damage the monument in the process, who can sue me?
Who are the “They” who should be doing something about it?
From http://www.britishwaterways.co.uk/ — ‘Until July 2012 British Waterways was the public corporation that cared for the 2,200-mile network of canals and rivers in England, Scotland and Wales. Its role was to ensure that the waterways could be used for all to enjoy, now and for many years to come. On 2nd July 2012 the Government transferred inland waterways in England and Wales into a new charitable body, the Canal & River Trust.’
http://canalrivertrust.org.uk/volunteer/adopt-a-stretch-of-canal-or-river seems to be a formal way for groups to get involved.
Talking in a general common sense way (in other words I am not offering this as the start of a political debate!) Why is a Government organisation now a charity and should I expect a charity to do everything I feel needs doing? I think the financial crash and the aftermath has made it clear that the country has been living beyond its means for a very long time. The choice seems to be pay a lot more tax or accept a lot less in the way of services. As most people don’t fancy the idea of paying more tax should we accept that we can only expect the government to provide the basics. As for the rest – the nice little trimmings like a canal network to play with – have we got to expect to provide it for ourselves via voluntary work or charitable donations?
Any ideas anybody?
All the best from David (sitting on his backside and doing nothing about it) Hodgkinson