Basingstoke Canal Society Survey

What people want from the Canal – feedback from the survey

To help increase Membership and get more people involved in our wonderful canal, the Society commissioned a survey of users of the canal and we would like to share with you some of the highlights of the survey

Firstly however we want to thank Ruth Hinton for helping us in this research. She is an experienced market researcher and volunteered to plan and run the survey. It has provided us with excellent feedback from you the users of the canal. So thanks Ruth for your help

You may well yourselves have participated in the survey which was in the last Bulletin and on the Society’s Facebook page. We had a very good response with 270 people completing the survey this broadly spread being a third people who were not members of the Canal Society, and a third each of members have been with us for two years and those over two years

So what did the survey tell us?

Firstly 84% of respondents live within 5 miles of the canal, and while acknowledging the limited travel under Covid, our prime audience is clearly the local people along the ‘canal corridor’.

Why do people come to the canal?

The top reasons for choosing the Canal over other outdoor places was the pleasure of being by the water (96%), pleasant views and scenery (95%), it being a quiet and peaceful area (87%) and because of the variety of attractive wildlife (77%). It is also chosen over other outdoor places for being convenient (85%) and because it is free to visit (82%).

So what are people’s feelings about the canal?

The chart below details feedback from members which clearly shows the importance to everyone  of ‘Keeping the Canal Alive’ (98% support) with similar messages in terms of ‘Promoting the Future of the Canal’ and ‘Preserving the History of the Canal’.  The importance of Leisure and Protecting plants and wildlife is also very important.

And in terms of what people want, feedback is that members want to hear about improvements (82%), History (79%) and again Wildlife and Plants – with the punchline that 39% are interested in finding out how to get involved and support the Society. Good news!

With our wish to increase membership, the feedback on how people feel about being a member tells us that there is a very clear message wish to support the Canal with comments such as ‘Proud to contribute to a good cause’, ‘Informed’ and ‘Part of a Community’. This reinforces the theme of ‘Keeping the Canal Alive’

What so what does this mean in terms of the next steps?

The survey reinforces the Canal Societies objectives of ‘protecting this navigable waterway for both present and future generations through involving the local community’. Pleasingly The survey confirms that we are broadly on track – but it will help us ensure that we are focussed on what is important to the users of the canal, walkers, cyclists, boats, etc

Certainly through ensuring continued boating on the canal we will protect the history and culture of the canal. Backing this, leisure and health & well being are vital, as are the economic benefits these bring. Most important also is our focus on environmental issues including the plants and wildlife

Clearly there is lots that we want to do and we will keep you advised on our plans and learning points from the survey.

In the meantime current projects include the Information Boards and our Facebook page regularly has stories on plants and wildlife. Work is also almost finished on additional moorings at Holland Moorings, Farnborough which will bring more boats to the Canal. Going forward we plan to have a website for members which will give access to a whole range of history and wildlife articles. As for day to day work, on an ongoing basis our work parties continue to help keep the towpath tidy (nature doesn’t stop growing during lockdown!), our lengthsmen regularly walk their local stretch, and lots of work goes on behind the scenes to support and raise the profile with local councils – quite simply in a normal year volunteers help with around 3500 volunteer days

So how can you help the Society and your local canal?

  • Firstly we want new members. Membership increased over the last year by 25% and we now have 1020 members. But we would like to get 2000. Ambitious? – yes but not really in the context of all the people who visit the canal. Remember also that with the Society comprising solely volunteers, all of the membership fees go towards helping the canal. So please join if you aren’t a member – or if you are a member get a friend or neighbour to join.  Just go to our website and it is easy to join online
  • On the other hand you might want to volunteer and help. Again our website details the volunteer opportunities – or email to find out more