Overall the Association remains in reasonable shape. During the past 3 years the Association has stabilised its financial position and we continue to make sure we get the best value for money that we can for our rents and leases. We have also continued to look for further opportunities. We looked at bids for 2 waters during the past year. One we lost on the basis of price and the second we declined to bid for as we felt that it didn’t offer anything we didn’t already have. We have to be judicious, as I will come to later.
There have been a number of other achievements. The new water at Boundary Park became available and will be so again in 2016, work has been completed on Petty Pool and BIllinge Green and plans are in place to complete work on other waters in 2016, including Vale Royal Pool and Little Oaks. A huge vote of thanks to those members who continue to support these activities and help provide top quality waters for all the members to enjoy. If any of you feel that you have some time to devote to the Association, we would be only too pleased to hear from you. Please feel free to contact any of the association’s officers or committee members. The working party dates will be posted on the website in the coming weeks.
In addition to the maintenance work we have also completed some restocking at Billinge Green. Additional fish were also due to be added to Petty Pool, but an EA intervention has delayed this activity until 2016. An agreed restocking plan has now been confirmed by the EA and English Heritage and the stocking will be undertaken shortly.
However, there is absolutely no room for complacency and I want to draw a number of issues to your attention.
Declining membership – As with many other associations, there continues to be fewer and fewer anglers on the banks of our rivers and pools. For example, I walked the River Weaver on a number of occasions throughout the year and some lengths were completely void of anglers even at the usual peak times at weekends during the summer. The result is a constant battle to main income levels. Whilst we have made great strides in the past 3 years in reviewing and reducing costs, this will remain a key focus in 2016. Ultimately though, we have to prepare for the scenario where the current portfolio of waters isn’t sustainable. We are not there yet, but we can’t ignore the trends and hope that eventually this will resolve itself. We are not alone in this. It is also affecting a number of other clubs in the North West. It is my intention to get out and about in 2016 to meet the secretaries of other clubs to see how we can work together. This may involve not only promoting angling but looking to see how we can work together to share under-utilised waters and costs. Just to re-iterate NAA has funds and is a stable entity with a lot of assets, but we do need to plan for the long term.
Vandalism and poaching – A decision was taken some years ago to implement locked access gates to NAA waters. In recent months we have suffered a spate of all the locks being smashed off the gates on almost a daily basis – to the extent that we cannot keep up with the rate of lock replacement required. Despite increased bailiff activity and members keeping watch over our waters, we have been unable to catch those responsible. We are certain that this is linked to the plague of poaching waters for carp that is now taking place across the North West. Again, it’s not something that is affect just NAA. Lymm Anglers have had to open stretches of waters previously restricted on Shakerley Mere in order to deter poachers. We will continue to involve the EA and local police where possible, in order to catch those responsible. We will be looking to maintain the locks on Petty Pool, BIllinge Green and the River Weaver at the Red Lion, Barnton. If you intend to fish these waters, please make sure you have a key.
We have also suffered a break-in to the lock-up on Shipbrook Lakes, with some items such as a generator being stolen. This has been reported to the police along with the names of those we believe were responsible. Please be vigilant and report any issues you may see to the bailiffing team, if not the relevant authorities
Finally, just to highlight some work that is taking place on Marbury Mere at the request of the sailing club. Over the next few years trees and bankside vegetation will be cut back to aid the sailing. The wind across the mere is being affected by growth which has not been trimmed since we bought the mere some years back. This work has been agreed by all parties involved.