The CRT has been keen to emphasise that its interest in the hire boat holiday marketing consortium Drifters Leisure Limited is insignificant. In a Freedom of Information response, CRT said that BW’s shares in the company (which CRT has inherited) are of minimal value, that Sally Ash receives no financial reward for her position as a director of Drifters, and that she was appointed with BW’s approval.
This is not the point. Regardless of any direct financial return from the company, CRT/ BW’s involvement with the hire boat trade in this way is a conflict of interest with its status as navigation authority. As Head of Boating, Sally Ash is responsible for policy towards all boaters, and a close relationship with hire boat companies (shown by her detailed knowledge of Drifters operations in a comment on this web site) is a conflict of interest. This is demonstrated by her proposals for preferential treatment for hire boats at the expense of other boaters, especially those without home moorings, that she has advocated in consultations. For instance, in the K&A Local Mooring Strategy she proposed that maximum total days stay limits and overstay charges at visitor moorings should not apply to hire boats.
The boater who made the FOI request asked CRT to provide the Board resolution or other legal device authorising BW to purchase shares in Drifters and to nominate Sally Ash as a director of the company. CRT’s response was that there was no authorisation for either of these actions because of the size and limited significance of Drifters.
You can read the full FOI request here
You can download the Annual Returns of Drifters Leisure Limited, Company Registration number 02972938, for £1 each from Companies House here