Cross-Party Waterways Support at House of Commons Reception09 July 2015
Over 50 people including MPs, members of the House of Lords and waterway representatives were joined at the Houses of Parliament by the new Waterway Minister, Rory Stewart MP, on Tuesday 7th July at a reception organised by The Inland Waterways Association. The event, which was the first meeting of a waterways group at Westminster in the new Parliament, followed on from IWA’s pre-election campaign which saw over 40 MPs pledging their support to the Association’s Waterway Manifesto.
Among those present at the waterways reception was former waterway minister, Richard Benyon, MP for Newbury, who was a leading figure in the setting up of Canal & River Trust. Other MPs from across the House took time out of their busy schedules to drop in to the afternoon session, where IWA representatives outlined the five points of the Manifesto. About a third of the MPs who attended the event were newly elected, and so this was their first opportunity to learn about the work of IWA at a parliamentary level, and to discover more about the waterways in their constituencies.
Among the topics discussed were affordable moorings and issues affecting residential boaters, IWA’s aspiration to see the Environment Agency’s navigations transferred to Canal & River Trust with a sufficient funding package, waterways heritage and local planning issues, waterway restoration projects and the potential effects of future stages of HS2 on specific waterway locations.
All the MPs and peers who attended were encouraged to join the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Waterways, which will now be reconvened for the new Parliament, as well as being invited to develop a close relationship with local waterway groups such as canal societies and IWA branches in their constituencies.
IWA’s National Chairman, Les Etheridge, said “We were pleased to see the enthusiasm for waterways issues from those attending and to have the opportunity to meet Rory Stewart MP so soon after his appointment as Waterways Minister. I’m also delighted that he has agreed to a further meeting with us to discuss these issues in more detail”.
Photo: IWA National Chairman Les Etheridge (left) with new Waterway Minister Rory Stewart MP (right)