On 14th May Paul Rodgers, IWA National Chairman, addressed an online meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Waterways. Convened to discuss the urgent issues facing waterway businesses affected by the Covid-19 lockdown, the meeting heard how government’s failure to offer a £20m support package “could precipitate the most widespread and rapid decline of businesses on our waterways.” Paul urged the government to “intervene at the earliest possible opportunity to save this vital sector of the British economy”.
IWA’s call for action was supported by the words of Richard Parry and John Packman who between them offered the navigation authorities’ perspective on behalf of Canal & River Trust and the Broads Authority. A representative from British Marine joined them, along with the parliamentarians present, for a question and answer session.
Representatives from user organisations and waterway businesses had been invited to attend the meeting and were given the opportunity to ask questions and raise issues. A number of waterway businesses gave lived examples of how financial help is much needed, and the case was made for some waterway businesses, such as hire boat operators, being able to open up at the earliest possible opportunity.
The meeting closed with the chairman, Michael Fabricant MP, stating that the APPGW would write immediately to Defra, DCMS and HM Treasury asking for urgent support for the waterways sector.