IWA has been calling for a third sector model to run Britain’s waterways since the middle of the last century, so we welcome that the Government shares our vision to establish a ‘National Trust’ for the waterways. We are in no doubt that this is the right way forward for the management of Britain’s inland waterways.
We applaud the Government’s decision to provide the New Waterways Charity (NWC) with the British Waterways property portfolio and a long term contract through to 2022/23. These initiatives demonstrate real commitment to the project to transform British Waterways into a charity. However from the outset IWA has expressed certain reservations. These are that:
• The funding package must be sufficient to ensure that a sustainable charity can be delivered in the long term.
• The governance arrangements must encourage community engagement consistent with localism so that local ‘ownership’ of waterways can lead to tangible benefits for the waterways.
• With the decision to phase the integration Environment Agency navigations by 2015/16, that the Government should be planning now for an orderly transfer.
We will also want to explore in further detail how the status of the commercial, cruising and remainder waterways will be dealt with to meet the charitable purposes of the body in a manner that sustains and enhances existing usage.
THE FUNDING PACKAGE
IWA is concerned that the funding package on offer is far too fragile, taking risks that are simply too great for a successful launch of the NWC.
Defra’s Arm’s Length Body funding announcement in December 2010 was a cut for British Waterways grant this year to £41.5m compared to £48m in 2010/11 – a reduction of 13.5%; thereafter the contract to be let to the charity is to a value of £39m per annum in nominal terms (no inflation so the contract falls in real terms over time) – a reduction of nearly 19%.
IWA’s best estimates based upon published information is that British Waterways needs in the region of £150m per annum for direct expenditure on the waterways in England and Wales. However in 2008 a KPMG report commissioned by British Waterways concluded that British Waterways was operating with a funding deficit of circa £30m per annum to achieve ‘steady state’ (meaning in all round good condition with maintenance conducted promptly) for its network. So the company should be spending about £180m per annum.
In commercial income British Waterways receives about £35m from property and about £61m from other revenue sources at present (utilities, boat licences, moorings, marinas etc) so about £96m. Together with a £39m government contract for the NWC this is about £15m per annum short of what the charity needs to continue with a similar budget available to British Waterways now, and about £45m short of achieving ‘steady state’.
The company’s own projections are that under the current financial scenario it’s spend on major works will have to go down from £22.6m last year to £15.5m this year and £10.2m in the first year of the charity. The implications are that whereas British Waterways had planned to reduce the percentage of its assets in poor or very poor condition to 10% the percentage is now up to 20% and rising. Even with assumptions about new resources which appear to be highly optimistic – for example within the first decade from a starting point of zero a rise to £13m in donations – on the central assumptions the assets in poor or very poor condition are projected to be around 22-26% by 2032.
There are many options that the government could pursue to achieve a package to alleviate these financing difficulties. Elements it could incorporate into a sustainable funding package include to:
• Meet the past service pension liabilities of British Waterways so that the charity starts with a clean sheet on pension liability.
• Provide a transition fund both to cover the increased costs needed for a successful launch of the charity and the costs of promoting broad based local ownership of our waterways, including finance to pump prime locally determined projects.
• Index the indicative funding.
• Provide certainty of funding beyond 10 years.
• Fund the cost of bridge repairs which have risen exponentially for British Waterways given the nature and axle weight of today’s commercial traffic.
However Government might choose to give the charity a better start so that this flagship Big Society project has a real chance of success from the outset, the cost per annum could be as little as 200-600 yards of HS2.
The All Party Parliament Waterways Group has been re-formed under the chairmanship of the Rt Hon Alun Michael MP. IWA has agreed to provide assistance and secretarial support to the Group. As its first action the Group is to undertake two hearings on the future arrangement of British Waterways as a non-governmental organisation. The first hearing will be on Governance and the second will be on Finance. The Group will then report to the Waterways Minister who has told the group that he has an open mind and will welcome our comments and suggestions on the proposals.
Alun Michael will be inviting experts in the field of charities and other non-government organisations such as trusts, co-operatives and mutuals to provide opinions to him and the MPs and Lords who are members of the group. Parliamentarians will then explore the view expressed by the witnesses.
This will be a formal meeting for the taking of expert evidence so it will not be an open meeting when it will be possible to have a wider discussion between MPs, Peers and stakeholders.
IWA broadly supports the proposals for the Lee and Stort.
There is very little in the proposed plan which would inconvenience bona fide continuous cruisers and most other leisure boaters. They are very unlikely to over-stay on the towpath, having little reason to do so. However designating the whole of the Stort, or any other long section of the navigation, as a 7-day zone is seen as an unjustified imposition on leisure boaters attempting to undertake reasonable navigation by ‘weekending’ between sites.
For more information please go to http://www.waterways.org.uk/campaigns/news/campaign_news/iwa_draft_response_bw_lee___stort_mooring_plans_
Earlier in 2011 the Government announced the preferred route of HS2 and this currently forms the basis of a public consultation that closes on 29th July 2011. On in its route from London Euston to Birmingham Curzon Street/Handsacre (where it joins the present West Coast Main Line) it crosses the canal network 12 times, only one of these being a crossing of a restoration project (see point 8). Of these four of these crossings fall within IWA London Region and the remainder within IWA West Midlands Region.
From London these crossings are located at (the map reference being that used in the consultation document): -
1. Map 1 – Regents Canal in a tunnel just west of the present West Coast Main Line Bridge over the canal
2. Map 2 – GU Paddington Arm in a tunnel that runs roughly 200 yards under, or partly under, the canal either side of Mitre Bridge 6 just west of Kensal Green
3. Map 3 – GU Paddington Arm between bridges 15 and 16 in Northolt
4. Map 5 – GU by viaduct at Denton Gravel Pits between bridges 180 and 181
5. Map 19 – Oxford Canal between Stoneton Bridge 127 and Wilson’s bridge 128 at Wormleighton (on the famous winding section)
6. Map 21 – GU by viaduct over the canal and flood plain immediately south of Longhole Bridge 31
7. Map 27 – Birmingham and Fazeley Canal by viaduct that also crosses the adjacent M42 between Marston Lane Bridge and White Bridge (immediately north of lock 5). The west end of the viaduct abuts a high embankment that foots the offside bank of the canal.
8. Map 29 – Wyrley & Essington (Lichfield Canal) by a viaduct immediately above the recently built Cappers Bridge over the, to be restored, canal. The viaduct also crosses the adjacent flood plan and the plan shows a clearance above ground level at this point (i.e. excluding Cappers Bridge) of 12 mtrs, one assumes this to be rail height and not the bottom of the supporting structure. Unlike all the other crossings above there is no mention of a canal being crossed.
9. Map 30 –Trent and Mersey Canal twice either side of Wood End Lock 20/Bridge 53. A member has already voiced an opinion in regards to the need for two crossings however it is apparent from the plans that these are probably needed to provide the required curvature to enable high speed running because the line needs to curve to join the existing line at Handsacre.
10. Map 33 (i) – GU Birmingham and Warwick Junction immediately north of bridge 108, possibly using an existing railway structure or an extension to it.
11. Map 33 (ii) – BCN Digbeth Branch by Viaduct over Ashted Bottom Lock
Whilst clearly it is not within IWA remit to object to the scheme we do need to consider where the construction or tunnelling work might affect the availability of the waterway network and thus the interests of our members, corporate or otherwise. Ideally the project should build in methods that will enable the construction works to take place without closing the canal or alternatively minimum disruption during the winter stoppage season with the Christmas/New Year window built in. However recent history, when the West Coast Main Line was widened earlier this century, has seen several canals closed for excessive periods that ran well into the main cruising season.
Given that the works will probably take place at the same time, maybe using several different contractors, and the desire to carry them out as cheaply as possible it seems highly likely that, if there was no provision built in to prevent or minimise canal closures, the system could be segmented in numerous places all at the same time effectively closing a large portion of the most heavily used part of the network thereby putting at risk those businesses who depend upon the canal for their main source of income as well as inconveniencing the traditional boater. Nearer the time, and mindful of what agreements may then be in place and the risk of overruns, Inland Waterways Festivals may need to consider where it will hold its festivals before, during and after the construction phase.
In addition there are concerns that the crossing of the Lichfield Canal/Cappers Bridge may not be high enough to prevent the newly built bridge having to be demolished and the consequential affect on the canal. IWA understands that The Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust is presently looking into this.
IWA has asked BW the following regarding the issues under the current control of BW and likely to be NWC concerns
1. What is being done to guarantee that the line will not make or render any navigations referred to above un-navigable owing to reduced headroom?
2. What can be done to ensure that there will be no closures to the network , or how will these be managed to minimise disruption to users during construction?
This year with good weather and a massive effort a record amount of rubbish was removed from the Canals around Salford Junction.
A day was spent working around Garrison Locks (sometimes referred to as Saltley Locks) with a good catch of Metal/Tyres and Rubbish. This part of the Grand Union Canal is part of the proposed Heartlands Linear Park where a project officer has been appointed and there are plans to spend £332,000 on improvements.
The "Catch" included an 08 registered Triumph motorcycle 3 unidentified motorcycles, 4 mopeds and an uncountable amount of bicycles & tyres.
Altogether the weekend attracted approximately 200 volunteers, including lots of untiring WRGies and members of the Birmingham CNS, Coombeswood Canal Trust, Dudley Canal Trust, IWA members and British Waterways.
Walsall Town council has indicated that they will support next year's event at the Walsall Town arm.
Members of IWA Chester & District Branch were delighted to be joined by Mrs Bruce, MP for Congleton, on Saturday, 16th April at their Lock Wind in Middlewich.
Mrs Bruce (photo: centre), who recently became a member of the IWA, listened to concerns about the funding underpinning the proposed changes to British Waterways and promised to take those concerns back to Westminster.
IWA Chester Branch members worked boats through Wardle Lock in Middlewich for the whole weekend. As well as raising funds it also enabled us to raise awareness about waterways issues with the boaters going through whilst giving out IWA membership leaflets.
IWA's annual three-day national festival, to be held a month earlier than usual this year - over the last weekend in July, is an exciting and colourful extravaganza packed with an array of attractions all aimed at providing a great day out for the family.
Around 350 boats, many decorated, will line up along the water’s edge, each captained by cheerful waterway enthusiasts. Heritage crafts will also feature strongly at the festival, with historic working boats on display.
The event is renowned for its high quality entertainment and history lovers will be drawn to the major Viking battle re-enactment and living camp being staged by the world famous Regia Anglorum.
With a reputation for vivid and dramatic entertainment, the Mikron Theatre Company will debut a new waterways show called Hell and High Water.There is much more to see, including live music, water activities and fairground rides.
The festival attracts over 250 exhibitors so whether you’re interested in boats and chandlery or just wish to browse the many speciality stalls, including clothing, arts and crafts, jewellery and speciality food and drink, the choice is extensive.
Order your tickets online: http://www.waterways.org.uk/shop/list_products?category=212
Keep up to date with the latest festival news and sign up to the Festival Times newsletter: http://www.waterways.org.uk/em-signup
£42,220 has been pledged so far.
Proposed works for this year include damming of the canal from the Thames and the construction of a piled landing stage for the lock.
To donate please go to http://www.waterways.org.uk/shop/product_details?id=1294
IWA now participates in the easyfundraising scheme. It's absolutely free to you and IWA can gain donations from the participating retailers of up to 2.5% or more of the value of your shopping when you use it.
For more information please see http://www.waterways.org.uk/support_us/online_fundraising_
If you or your branch would like to organise an event to raise funds for the Inglesham Lock Restoration Appeal, please contact email@example.com
Interested in becoming a Canal Camp Leader for the Waterway Recovery Group?
As a WRG Canal Camp Leader you will experience the wonderful scenery the UK has to offer, help restore part of the UKs industrial heritage, meet volunteers of all ages and backgrounds and most importantly have fun!
Find out more by joining them on the 14th May for the Leaders Training Day.
For more information please go to http://www.waterways.org.uk/wrg/volunteer/leading/become_a_leader
Once again IWA has a stand at the Crick Boat Show, so we are seeking help in manning the IWA stand at this event, which takes place at Crick Marina near Junction 18 of the M1.
The days will be divided into two sessions 10.00 – 2.00 and 2.00 – 6.00. Help to set up on Friday 28 would also be appreciated.
For more information please go to http://www.waterways.org.uk/pdf/crick_helpers_request or contact Liz Payne firstname.lastname@example.org 01367 253121 or 07970 773210
It takes over 300 volunteers to stage this event , so please if you can spare any time we need your support. On completion of the online volunteer form Ann Myall Personnel Manager will contact you nearer to the event and organise with you personally how you would like to help and in what are area.
We are looking for a volunteer to help out at our Head Office in Chesham. Work hours are flexible and full training will be provided. For further information please email email@example.com.
For a full list of volunteer opportunities go to: http://www.waterways.org.uk/about/vacancies/vacancies
The Chesterfield Canal Trust’s appeal for funds to build a new lock has topped £10,000. This includes a £5,000 IWA Grant from the Restoration Grants Fund. With outstanding Gift Aid, it is currently nearly £12,000.
The new lock will be built at Staveley Town Basin which is currently under construction. It is required to lower the canal so that it can get under a railway line further east. It will be lock number 5A.
The lock has been designed and engineered by the Trust and Derbyshire County Council working in partnership. It will be built by the Trust’s volunteer Work Party. They are no strangers to such an enterprise, having built a brand new Dixon’s Lock from scratch in the 1990s after the original had been swept away by opencast mining.
Work will start in the summer aided by the Waterway Recovery Group which is sending a party of volunteers for a fortnight in July.
The appeal was originally launched in 2009, but was boosted last summer when the Donate a Brick appeal was launched. Since then sums from £5 to £1000 have come in steadily from members and supporters all over the country.
At Christmas, £390 was raised by people donating bricks as presents. Other donations have been made as birthday presents, as expressions of love and in memory of departed loved ones. The Trust provides a certificate to acknowledge such requests.
To donate a brick costs £5, a hodful of bricks is £50 and a barrowload of bricks is £100. For further details email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to The Treasurer, Chesterfield Canal Trust, 43 Whitecotes Park, Walton, Chesterfield, S40 3RT. All donors are listed in the Trust’s award-winning magazine Cuckoo, unless requested otherwise.
Seasoned stomper Julia Bradbury dons her walking boots once again and this time she's exploring her own British backyard travelling along the country's network of canals and their accompanying towpath trails. This sees her navigating Highland Glens, rolling countryside, river valleys as well as our industrial heartlands following these magical waterways as they cut a sedate path through some of the country's finest scenery.
A Skyworks series on BBC4
2nd May 2011 - 20:30 - The Caledonian Canal
9th May 2011 - 20:30 - The Worcester & Birmingham Canal
16th May 2011 - 20:30 - The Kennet & Avon Canal
23rd May 2011 - 20:30 - The Llangollen Canal
(dates and times may be subject to change)
The following special offers are now available exclusively for IWA members:
Please note: All discounts and offers are entirely at the organisers' discretion.
To see details of how to take advantage of these offers please go to http://www.waterways.org.uk/support_us/member_services/member_discounts_special_offers_public
For IWA members that receive a hard copy of this bulletin in the post, please contact the membership team on 01494 783453 for the details of the offers.
21st - 22nd May: Rickmansworth Canal Festival
28th - 30th May: Welsh Waterways Festival & IWA National Trailboat Festival
28th - 30th May: Wendover Arm Trust Canal Festival
28th - 30th May: Crick Boat Show
10th - 12th June: Stoke Bruerne Gala Weekend
Please see below for a list of canal restoration and clean-up events.
14 - 15 May - Thames & Severn Canal (NWPG)
Contact: Bill Nicholson 01844 343369 or email email@example.com
21 - 22 May - Thames & Severn Canal (London WRG)
Contact: Tim Lewis 07802 518094 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
5 May - Bluebell Walk, Birmingham & Fazeley Canal (IWA Lichfield Branch)
Details: A circular walk of about 3 miles along the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal and through Hopwas Hays Woods to see the bluebells. Note: the path up through the woods rises about 50 metres. 10.30 for 10.45 am start at the Red Lion PH, Lichfield Road, Hopwas, near Tamworth, B78 3AF. Optional pub lunch afterwards.
Contact: Mike Moorse 07799 140068 or email email@example.com
15 May – Regent’s Canal – Little Venice to Camden (London Walks)
Details: Meet 2.30pm Warwick Avenue Station. Costs £8 or £6 senior citizens/full-time students, children under 15 free. Proceeds shared between IWA and London Walks.
Contact: Peter Finch 020 8969 9941 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or Roger Wilkinson 020 8458 9476 or email email@example.com
20 May - Derby and Sandiacre Canal (IWA Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire Branch)
Details: Guided by Chris Madge, Chairman of the Canal Society. Meet in Spondon on Megaloughton Lane, off the A6005/A52 roundabout ( DE21 7BR gets you close). There is parking on the lane, or in B&Q. Meet at 7pm at the interpretation panel by the side of the lane. The walk will follow the canal path eastwards to Borrowash lock and on to finish at the Navigation Public house in Breaston. The distance is approximately 5 miles and is expected to take about 2 hours.
Contact: See http://bit.ly/mjrfcb for more details
22nd May - Stourbridge Canal (Jewels on the Cut)
Details: 11.00am start. Jewels on the Cut is a leisurely stroll along the Town Arm of the Stourbridge Canal examining the industrial heritage of the area with particular reference to the Stourbridge Glass Industry.
Contact: Broadfield House 01384 812745
29 May – Bow Back Rivers & Olympic London (London Walks)
Details: meet 2.30pm, Bromley-by-Bow Station. Costs £8 or £6 senior citizens/full-time students, children under 15 free. Proceeds shared between IWA and London Walks.
Contact: Peter Finch 020 8969 9941 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or Roger Wilkinson 020 8458 9476 or email email@example.com
To advertise your towpath walks in the bulletin please email details to firstname.lastname@example.org.
IWA Head Office, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham, HP5 1WA
01494 783 453