The Cabinet Office announcement on the future of many Quangos including the future of British Waterways was made on the 14 October. In a report of short paragraphs, one covering each organisation, the following waterway organisations were mentioned.
British Waterways No longer a Public Corporation - Abolish as a public corporation in England and Wales and create a new waterways charity – similar to a National Trust for the waterways
Broads Authority Retain - Retain on grounds of performing a technical function which should remain independent of Government; but review governance and increase accountability
Environment Agency Retain and substantially reform - Reform through structural, process and cultural change to become a more efficient and customer focused organisation; and clarify accountabilities. Further announcements after the spending review. The Environment Agency in Wales may move to form part of a WAG Environmental Body.
Inland Waterways Advisory Council No longer an NDPB - Abolish body and functions, as previously announced
Internal Drainage Boards (x 160) Retain and substantially reform - Improve efficiency and accountability, amend functions, and increase the involvement of local communities
IWA Welcomes Government announcement that British Waterways will become a charitable body
IWA welcomed the Government’s announcement on the 14th October that British Waterways is to be turned into a charitable body. It believes that if this is launched so that the charity is financially viable it can be a great example of how an important component of our national heritage can be successfully managed by civil society consistent with the Government’s aspirations for Big Society.
This announcement follows strong and persistent lobbying by IWA for a new kind of charity based waterways organisation formed from a merger of the two main government funded navigation authorities as a form of national inland waterways conservancy, to which at some future date, other navigations might be able to join.
Clive Henderson, IWA National Chairman, said:
‘This is great news. Over 50 years ago IWA co-founder and visionary Robert Aickman proposed that a National Waterways Conservancy be created as an all purpose authority for the waterways. IWA continues to hold that vision and today marks a first step in its delivery.’
However IWA will be seeking assurances from the Government over its contribution to ensuring that the charity is financially viable and how management by civil society can be made to work so the charity is genuinely a new organisation.
‘A great deal of work is now required so that the charity can have a successful launch and we expect to play our part. First, it must be financially viable from day one. The National Trust was not an overnight success and started from small beginnings. The new charity does not have the opportunity to grow over time – it has to be up and running immediately – and engaging with the public, securing new revenue streams, will take some time.
The waterways also deliver public benefits for which there is no, and there can never be, an income stream. The Government needs to fund those public benefits for the nation. So we will be looking for assurances that the charity will have the benefit of the British Waterways property portfolio, and a properly costed long term service contract from Government.’
‘The Government’s wants management by civil society. We have already submitted our views on how the charity could be managed with decision making both at the top of the organisation and at the local delivery level with the community properly and fully engaged. We look forward to ongoing discussions with Government over how this can be made to work.’
Finally, he commented on inclusion of the Environment Agency navigations:
‘We have made no secret of our aspiration that the charity should manage both the British Waterways and the Environment Agency navigations. We know that Government has not concluded its deliberations over that and we know that some in the waterways community have strong reservations. I understand those reservations and recognise that there is a balance of argument, including the issue of dealing with liabilities, and that a big bang of transformation of British Waterways activities into a charity and absorption of the Environment Agency navigations, at the same time, is a challenge. But I believe that it is a challenge worth rising to. The advantages of a merger of the two major publicly funded navigations are that it would provide:
• A strong focus on the core mission of running these previously publicly owned waterways in the best interests of the community, with improved scope for a genuinely new body through cross fertilisation.
• A simplification of the management of the waterways to the benefit of business and the public.
• An ability to gauge and respond quickly to changing customer needs.
• Better value through the economies of scale to be achieved through the creation of a single organisation, and a co-ordinated system with, for example, a single navigation licence.
• The development over time of a national identity, like the National Trust, The National Parks, and the national museums; increasing usage, volunteering and charitable donations.
I believe that these advantages are such that ways need to be found to overcome problematic issues and that with imagination and radical thinking this can be achieved.’What IWA says on announcement
IWA together with The British Marine Federation (BMF), Royal Yachting Association (RYA),and British Canoe Union (BCU) all came together to talk to politicians with one voice on behalf of boating, water-sports and the boating industry as ‘the Boating Alliance’ at the various party conferences over the last three weeks.
The future of British Waterways, UK boating tourism, the impact of the economy on the boating market and possible regulation that may impact on leisure boating were top of the agenda at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham this week.
IWA and the team discussed the future of British Waterways and the possible inclusion of EA navigations with Richard Benyon, Waterways Minister, who fully understood IWA’s views and could see the advantages of such a move. We also raised the profile of boating holidays in the promotion of UK tourism with Tourism Minister John Penrose and the need to market the waterways as one clear proposition, again supporting the conservancy idea.
The Alliance also discussed the topical Fuel Quality Directive with Philip Hammond, Secretary of State for Transport, and had a joint meeting with Anne McIntosh, Chairman of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee and Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The current economic climate and potential for marine companies was also discussed with former Trade Minister Lord Digby Jones, now a Business Ambassador and champion for the manufacturing industry.
Detailed discussions on these issues were also held with Labour’s front bench team at their party conference. Notable amongst continuing support for the work of IWA, was acknowledgement by the former Treasury Minister Liam Byrne of the key role IWA and its political lobbyists had played in convincing him to refrain from selling-off BW’s property portfolio to fund the deficit payments in the latter part of last year.
In addition to getting in front of the key politicians, IWA was also busy on the Alliance stand meeting councillors, MPs and MEPs. There was a great deal of positive interest in our ideas for reforming the navigation authorities through the conservancy approach, and our political briefing note was in high demand from visitors to the stand. Visitors were also very positive around ideas and schemes to revitalise their own constituencies and improve amenities on the water-sides of riparian constituencies. It is likely that there will be a major plan to improve Staines put forward by the Town Council in the near future, involving a revitalisation of the river Thames frontage as a key focus for the town with the improvement and development of the water-side to encourage greater public use and boating.
IWA is seeking members photographs for inclusion in 2012’s IWA calendar , IWA also needs photos for campaigning and publicity purposes so please have a look back at your recent shots to find some that you could contribute to IWA. We need 13 horizontal postcard format shots for the months included (January to January) and one high quality vertical shot for the front cover, which is always the most difficult picture to find. If you have some good photos of canal or river scenes please send them to Head Office, care of Jo.Gilbertson@waterways.org.uk or to IWA, Island House, Moor road, Chesham HP5 1WA. Photos should be high resolution at 300DPI if possible.
IWA promotions and communications team are compiling a new up-to-date list of speakers and presentations for use by branches, if you know of a good speaker please Contact Jo.Gilbertson@waterways.org.uk
We are looking for volunteers who would be willing to adopt a marina or boatyard or boating business and keep them supplied with recruitment literature. Please contact Lesley.firstname.lastname@example.org or phone HO on 01494 783 453
Following a recent meeting on site with WRG and CCT team members the following works have been identified as being possible should the necessary funds be generated in time for next year, after paying off the land purchase costs.
Inglesham ‘Guardian Angels ‘ required
We are also seeking ‘guardian angels’ to finalise the funding of the purchase of the canal bed; in £1,000 units on behalf of the trust. – if you would like to be recognised as a ‘Guardian Angel and specifically fund the purchase of the track please contact Jo.Gilbertson@waterways.org.uk
A plan of the site together with a list of tasks needing undertaking is available
If you would like to sponsor a specific job so that WRG can make a start next year on site please contact Jo.email@example.com
The conference is to be held on the 15 November 2010 in London and will address in particular, the Government’s decision to transfer the waterways in England and Wales which are cared for by British Waterways to a new charitable body. There will be a keynote speech by the Waterways Minister, Richard Benyon MP as well as:
Inland waterways in civil society
Robin Evans, Chief Executive, British Waterways
Civil serviced waterways: Stand and deliver
Stuart Taylor, Head of Recreation & Navigation, Environment Agency
Civil partnership or shotgun wedding? Why local authorities must tie the knot with the civil society to help ensure a future for inland waterways
Diane Tilley, Director of Planning, Economy and Performance, Worcestershire County Council
Quantifying the extent and value of current volunteering activity on AINA members’ waterways
Chris Walker, Director, Social Policy Division, ECOTEC Research & Consulting Ltd
Establishing waterway partnerships: The Kennet & Avon pilot project
Speakers from the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust and British Waterways
Expert panel: Perspectives from the third sector
Stephen Bubb, Chief Executive, Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations
Ben Kernighan, Deputy Chief Executive, National Council for Voluntary Organisations
Registration is free. Please visit http://www.aina.org.uk/ainaconference2010.aspx for more details.
The Environment Agency is now predicting that the species will fully recover in less than 20 years. The first survey for eight years revealed a jump in otter sites since their numbers were last counted. An examination of 3,327 river sites across the country between July 2009 and March 2010 showed a tenfold increase in otter populations over the past 30 years.
The most likely place to spot an otter is along the River Wye in south-west England, where the population has reached maximum capacity, but rivers in Northumbria, Cumbria, Wessex and the Upper Severn also have healthy numbers.
It is with regret that we announce the death of ARTHUR FARRAND RADLEY MBE. On Saturday16th October. Arthur was London Region Vice President, and former London Branch Chairman. Arthur's funeral will take place on Thursday 4th November at 1pm at :
West London Crematorium at Kensal Green, Harrow Road, LONDON, W10 4RA.
IWA Head Office , Island House Moor Road, Chesham , HP5 1WA
01494 783 453
Bulletin is edited by Jo Gilbertson 01494 783453