Vandals disrupt canal boat which operates cruises for disabled

Vandals disrupt canal boat which operates cruises for disabled

by Henry James (May 2022)

A CANAL boat, which is operated from Parbold for people with disabilities and other special needs, had to cancel a booking after vandals forced a padlocked door on the vessel and stole cash.

The Rose of Parbold, a custom-built wide beam canal barge run by a charity and operated entirely by volunteers, was broken into last week.

It is moored at Mill Leat in Parbold, and provides day cruises on the Leeds & Liverpool canal for people with disabilities and other special needs and has been doing this for 30 years.

It had been returning to normal sailing after the last two years of Covid. This year the boat is sailing four days a week from April to October and each cruise has a volunteer crew of a skipper and three crew members.

However on Thursday, May 12 the skipper and crew for the day’s cruise arrived to prepare the boat in advance of the group’s arrival and found that the boat had been broken into.

Denise Price, the chair of the executive committee said: “Whoever had broken into the boat had been able to get onto it in spite of the existing security arrangements in place to prevent this, and had broken open a padlocked door to gain access to the interior.

“It was apparent that they had searched the interior thoroughly, opening the engine compartment and storage lockers, but fortunately no further damage had been done. They had however found the cash that was on the boat – £70, which for several reasons was a higher amount than would normally be there - and had taken it all.

“The break-in, which has been reported to the Police, had probably happened the previous night but, as a result of a cancelled cruise, the boat had not sailed for several days so the crew can’t be sure.

“The cruise booked for that day had to be cancelled, with no notice, leaving a disappointed group missing out on an enjoyable sail on the canal; members of the day’s crew, joined by the charity’s operations manager, then had to inspect the damage, repair the door and make sure the boat was made a secure as possible.

“I, and all of us involved, were shocked and saddened by this vandalism and theft, but the volunteers have worked hard to make sure that we can resume sailing quickly with no more of our customers having to be disappointed by cancellations because of it.

“The team is doing everything possible to further improve security - and we have made arrangements to ensure that no money is left on the boat in future.”

A total of 33 volunteers currently work as skippers or crew, as well the executive committee of trustees who manage the charity.

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