Photo: Hire boats will be back in operation from this weekend Credit: Harry Arnold, Waterway Images
Weeks of lobbying Government to support waterway businesses with a funding package totalling £20m has led to the Waterway Minister asking for more detail on how the funding package could work.
Rebecca Pow MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and her team at Defra acknowledged the amount of detailed information that has already been provided. We have high hopes that a letter submitted last week by us, Broads Authority, British Marine, Canal & River Trust and the Association of Inland Navigation Authorities will now lead to the approval of the £20m support package and that the sector can then get on and allocate the grant to businesses suffering hardship as a result of Covid-19 closures.
We have also submitted evidence to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) enquiry into the effect of Covid-19, outlining the waterway business hardship situation and why the £20m funding is needed urgently.
Heritage Alliance has sent an open letter to the press highlighting issues affecting the heritage sector. We signed the letter and Heritage Alliance recognised the impact that the current situation could have on our heritage waterway businesses by using our campaign as a case study when speaking to DCMS.
We really want to see more MPs raise Parliamentary Questions to underline the immediate benefits that the approval of the £20m support package could deliver for our waterway sector.
Please do write to your MP now asking them to support this campaign.
Details of the key points, including suggestions for Parliamentary Questions for MPs to ask, can be found here.
Photo: Craig Williams MP (right) with IWA volunteer Michael Haig, chair of IWA Shrewsbury District & North Wales branch
Earlier this month (4th June) Craig Williams, MP for Montgomeryshire, secured an adjournment debate on the subject of waterway restoration. He began the debate by focussing on the progress of the Montgomery Canal restoration, before he went on to talk about the wider success and benefits of waterway regeneration across the country. He stated “... if we look at the gross value added effect of restoring canals, we see that there is a huge positive return to the Exchequer and the public purse” reinforcing IWA’s long held campaigning message.
The importance of tourism to the waterways was also raised, with many businesses and charities currently struggling as a result of restrictions imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Craig Williams supported the many letters that have been sent to Government as part of IWA’s campaign for a package of support for navigation authorities and waterway businesses.
Craig Williams concluded his speech by suggesting that investment by Government in waterway restoration would be excellent value for money, helping the UK economic recovery by driving domestic tourism, supporting communities and providing health and environmental benefits.
You can watch the adjournment debate on the Parliamentary TV channel.
Photo: Proposals for Phase 2b have blighted the restorations of the Ashby Canal for many years Photographer: Angela Acott
IWA has responded to a Call for Evidence by the National Infrastructure Commission for a Rail Needs Assessment for the Midlands and the North. This consultation is part of a review of HS2 ordered by the Government to inform an Integrated Rail Plan which they expect to publish by the end of the year.
Although construction of Phase 1 of HS2 from London to Birmingham and Fradley has been authorised, and its continuation to Crewe in Phase 2a is proceeding through Parliament, the future of the remainder of HS2 is under review.
The proposals for Phase 2b include an eastern leg from Birmingham to Leeds which has blighted the restorations of the Ashby Canal and the Chesterfield Canal for many years, as well as threatening noise and environmental damage to the Coventry Canal, Erewash Canal, the Aire & Calder Navigation and other waterways. The western leg from Crewe to Manchester would have major landscape, noise and heritage impacts on the Trent & Mersey Canal and Middlewich Branch. Our submission includes the responses we made to the Phase 2b Working Draft Environmental Statement in December 2018 and the Design Refinement consultation in September 2019, as the threats to the waterways we detailed there remain unanswered.
The aim of the review is to redesign Phase 2b to better integrate with wider rail improvement plans for the North and Midlands, proposed by Northern Powerhouse Rail and Midlands Rail Hub. Chief among these is a new or improved trans-Pennine railway between Manchester and Leeds and Sheffield, as the central section of a high speed network from Liverpool to Hull and Newcastle, dubbed HS3 or High Speed North.
The consultation offered an opportunity for IWA to review the chequered history of HS2 and its many well documented design flaws and management failings. For Phase 2b these include:
...and much more.
We conclude that the way forward is to start with determining the trans-Pennine route which will connect Leeds to HS2 via Manchester, with the continuation to Crewe being rerouted. Reasons are also advanced for scrapping the eastern leg in favour of upgrading existing railway lines to the East Midlands and South Yorkshire. This would reduce impacts on the Trent & Mersey Canal and remove them altogether from the Coventry, Ashby, Soar, Trent, Erewash, Nottingham, Chesterfield, Sheffield & South Yorkshire and Aire & Calder waterways.
More detail about IWA’s response on High Speed North can be found here.
IWA has raised a formal complaint with The Planning Inspectorate following the publication of the Examining Authority’s Report on the West Midlands Rail Freight Interchange, as reported in last month’s Bulletin.
The scheme, which was approved by Grant Shapps (Secretary of State for Transport) on 4th May, will destroy the rural environment of the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal between Gailey and Four Ashes and damage its setting between Four Ashes and Calf Heath. It will also damage the setting of the Roundhouse at Gailey which along with the cottage, lock and wharf is a unique heritage asset that should be nationally treasured.
The report includes assessment of the impacts of the project on the heritage assets of the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal. IWA’s concern is that, if left unchallenged, the Report’s false reasoning would set unfortunate precedents for future heritage assessments of inland waterways. IWA is concerned that the sections of the report dealing with the canal’s heritage fall well short of the professional standards expected, and the complaint included a detailed analysis prepared jointly by IWA’s Planning Advisory Panel and Heritage Advisory Panel.
IWA made detailed representations at the earliest stage of the Examination, attended Hearings and maintained a watching brief throughout. More detail about IWA’s response to the Planning Inspectorate Report can be found in last month’s bulletin.
Photo: Bridgwater Docks Photographer: IWA Volunteer Mike Slade
At the annual user group meeting for the Bridgwater & Taunton canal last December, CRT informed those present that it would not be renewing or extending its lease of the Docks upon its termination date. Any of the boat owners whose mooring agreements ran beyond the termination date would receive a credit or a refund for the unexpired period. CRT also reported that they would be undertaking dilapidation works at the Docks, as required under the terms of the lease and would be working with Somerset County Council to secure the future of the Docks.
It was therefore a surprise to learn that the lease been temporarily extended. CRT has also written to boat owners in May stating that their mooring agreements would be terminated in advance of the eventual termination date of the lease and that they should prepare to remove their boats from the Docks, in the event that nobody is found to take the Docks on for the future. We have pointed out to CRT (and to SCC) that the Bridgwater & Taunton canal is an isolated waterway, the secure moorings on the canal are fully occupied. Removing the 30 or so boats moored in the Docks will be both inconvenient and costly to the boat owners. CRT has responded that it will continue to extend the mooring agreements for 3 months at a time for the foreseeable future but will not make any contribution to the costs of removing boats from the Docks.
IWA West Country Branch continues to lobby the local authorities and others within Somerset about the future of the Docks. We are working in particular with Somerset County Council and Bridgwater Town Council. At the moment discussions need to take place on the dilapidation obligations that CRT has under the terms of the lease. Our view is that until these are agreed it may be premature for any parties who might have an interest in the future of the Docks to get fully involved.
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The news that from 4th July holiday boat hire can resume and non-residential boaters can finally stay on board their own boats overnight was universally welcomed last week.
We have been pushing hard asking Defra to allow overnight stays on privately owned boats and whilst it was fantastic that Government allowed day boat hire companies and boatyards to open up from 11th June, we continued to lobby for a date when overnight stays would be allowed.
There are still many waterway businesses that remain without news on potential re-opening dates. They include skippered charter boats, hotel boats, hospitality boats and tourist/trip boats. Current guidance on using boats can be found on the Government Website.
Please do support the waterways this summer by booking a holiday afloat or taking your family on a day boat excursion. IWA members receive discounts with many hire boat holiday companies. For a full list of IWA’s corporate members that would love to receive your support this summer or to see our member discounts follow the links:
Many waterway businesses will be looking to reassure visitors and potential customers by applying for the new We’re Good to Go standard launched recently by VisitBritain. Waterway businesses and navigation authorities can apply for the free UK-wide industry standard and consumer mark to reassure customers that their business adheres to Government and public health guidance. The Avon Navigation Trust is today among the first waterway organisations to announce their receipt of the award.
We have added more speakers to our rolling weekly programme of waterway webinars. It's easy to join using a desktop computer, tablet or smart phone. You can also dial in.
Places are limited so register now to avoid disappointment.
Michael and Jo Morehouse will talk about their experience becoming the first Silver Propeller Challengers to visit 20 locations from our list.
Watch our online presentations back at a time which is best for you. Subscribe to our YouTube channel to get notifications when webinars are ready to view.
View webinars and subscribe to our YouTube channel.
Buy online and raise money for IWA at no cost to you. It is so easy to do your shopping with thousands of partner sites via easyfundraising. Every time you do, a percentage will be donated to IWA and it will cost you absolutely nothing extra.
There are over 3,100 shops and sites for you to browse and buy through on the easyfundraising site. Usually the thing that stops people raising money in this way for their favourite charity is that they simply forget. Since we launched IWA onto easyfundraising we have raised over £1500 so it is a brilliant way to support IWA. Find out more about easyfundraising.
How to remind yourself to raise money for IWA via easyfundraising:
By using the app, the reminder toolbar or shopping through the easyfundraising site, you can help IWA raise hundreds and hopefully thousands of pounds.
Many of the offers below can be claimed simply by using your IWA membership card. For others, log in or phone the membership team on 01494 783453 for details.
Please note: All discounts and offers are entirely at the organisers' discretion.
Boatshed Grand Union - 10% discount on brokerage
Calcutt Boats - 5% online discount
Channelglaze Ltd. - 10% discount on double glazing
Cotswold Outdoor - 10% discount
Willowbridge Marina - 10% discount on chandlery purchases and services in the yard
River Canal Rescue - up to 15% discount
For IWA members who receive a printed copy of this bulletin in the post, please contact the membership team on 01494 783453 for the details of the offers.
Members can also support IWA with a Narrow Boat magazine subscription
We have been looking at ways to provide more benefits to the waterways and everyone who uses them, and have extended our insurance offer to help you find the best available cover for your boat, your home and your car. Every policy purchased or renewed helps IWA, allowing us to further our charitable work for the waterways.
See more information about the IWA insurance schemes for boaters
Take part in the mystery photo challenge and submit your answer here.
See the answer and those that guessed correctly for the previous mystery challenge!