IWA Head Office Bulletin Mid August 2010

Top Story

IWA National Festival 2010

Saturday 28th - Monday 30th August (10am - 6pm), at Beale Park, Pangbourne, River Thames (near Reading). Advanced tickets still available at a discount.



About IWA

Burton on Trent to host 2011 Festival

New Venue and new date

The Inland Waterways Association has announced that Burton upon Trent, in the Midlands is to host the 2011 National Festival & Boat Show over the weekend of 29 – 31 July 2011 on Shobnall Fields. This new date is a change from the normal practice in recent years of holding it over the August bank holiday and has come after significant consultation with traders, attending public and IWA volunteers who are vital to the staging of the event.

The Festival was last held in Burton upon Trent in 2004 and it then attracted over 300 visiting canal boats, a similar number of campers and traders and was visited by thousands of the general public.

Trent & Mersey Canal offers many of the visiting craft a wide choice of cruising routes.  The area also has a significant number of restoration projects including plans to link the isolated section of the Ashby Canal at Moira to the rest of the waterways system at Snarestone.  Work is already in the early phases of bringing the Uttoxeter Canal back into water, and just a few miles down the Trent and Mersey Canal is the start of  the Derby Canal which  will link Derby City  and the River Derwent to the Erewash Canal forming a circular cruising route with the River Trent when complete.

More information to follow on web site at:


General Enquiries 0844 800 6583 and Trade & Catering Enquiries 0844 800 6552

IWA Political Update

Government ‘Mutualisation’/‘Civil Society’ Proposals

During 2009 BW proposed that it be moved into the so called third sector, probably becoming a charitable trust, partly for the purpose of generating additional income to meet the likely increasing shortfall in government grant in aid, and also to sharpen the focus of this new body on the waterways without the distraction of wider policy initiatives that BW have had to consider.

IWA cautiously supported these proposals and helped the development of them. However, IWA also produced a revised version of long held vision of an Inland Waterways Conservancy (IWC) embracing as much of the inland waterway system as possible. With apparent all party support the previous government endorsed the BW proposals. The new coalition government is also supportive of the third sector idea now renamed “civil society”, and is giving consideration to the inclusion of EA navigations in the new body. The Waterways Minister has emphasised that this would be a completely new body rather than a rebranded BW.

IWA key campaign points:

•    IWA is supportive of BW’s proposals to move into the third sector;
•    IWA is enthusiastic about including EA navigations as a first step towards the creation of he   IWC;
•    IWA welcomes Ministerial assurance that this would be a completely new body, and not just a rebranded (and expanded) BW;
•    IWA is aware of some user resistance over the inclusion of the Thames, but does not share a view that incorporation into a third sector body necessarily leads to a lowering of the good navigation standards on that river.

Other Waterways

In our Inland Waterway Conservancy vision document it was recognised that there would have to be a phased approach. Currently, the government is only considering BW and EA waterways, as these are the only two organisations where it funds navigation (although Defra officials did give passing consideration to the Middle Level Navigations). If this new combined BW/EA body is created it would represent the biggest change in waterways management since nationalisation of much of the system in 1948. Inclusion of other waterways can be considered later, but this is likely to be on a voluntary basis. IWA hopes that those already run by charitable trusts will see the benefit in merging to create an even bigger trust. At an appropriate time IWA should consider putting forward the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation for inclusion within the new body.

IWA key campaign points:

•    A new body comprising BW and EA navigations would be the most positive step in waterway management rationalisation since nationalisation in1948;
•    Once the new body has settled down, IWA hopes that other waterways can be persuaded to join;
•    At an appropriate time, IWA would encourage the Chelmer & Blackwater (the one waterway managed by IWA) to opt into the IWC.


Suitable responsive and consultative governance arrangements are crucially important. BW has considered this at a number of workshops to which IWA have been invited and these are continuing. Although wide ranging primary legislation to set up the new body would be beneficial, this seems unlikely owing to pressure on parliamentary time. The government is likely to retain ownership of the waterways and lease them to the new body using the 1962 and 1968 Transport Acts as the legislative framework.
IWA has submitted to Defra its own proposals for governance . In essence, a main board is envisaged to set policy together with a much broader based national interest stakeholder council. Below this top structure there would be a number of regional offices that would manage the local water partnerships, which would;

(a) bid for central funding,
(b) co-ordinate local fundraising and volunteer effort and
(c) make decisions about local priorities. BW plans to trial the new arrangements on the Kennet &         Avon Canal. Work on governance is continuing.

IWA key campaign points:

•    A suitably responsive and consultative governance model is essential for the IWC to work;
•    IWA is closely involved with the workshops to establish governance and has submitted its own proposals to Defra;
•    Stakeholders need to be closely involved in the management;
•    Close stakeholder involvement to coordinate fundraising together with volunteer effort and the setting local priorities will be needed along each regional waterway corridor;
•    BW and EA waterways are likely to continue to be owned by government and leased to the new body so as to avoid the need for new primary legislation.


Future likely funding challenges were a significant rationale that caused BW to propose third sector status, which would allow charitable funds and subscriptions to be raised whilst enjoying tax advantages and benefiting from volunteer effort much more effectively. Defra and the Minister have accepted that continuing government financial support will be essential for the future of the waterways, with the aim that Exchequer support reduces. The Minister has also stated that he understands that the income from the BW property portfolio is an essential dowry to enable the third sector body to be successful (although he may still have to convince the Treasury and his statement only commits to “a large proportion” of BW property being committed to that dowry).

Unfortunately, the public sector fiscal climate is now even more challenging with Defra having to find 25-40% cuts over four years (i.e. by 2014). Ensuring a suitable priority for waterways funding within this situation will be difficult as it cannot be expected to be a very high priority within the Defra budget. The cuts on both BW and EA grant in aid have already begun and the full extent of these will not be known until the outcome of the comprehensive spending review in the Autumn.

IWA key campaign points:

•     IWA accepts that all government departments are now under extreme financial pressure and that Defra has to find a 25-40% saving by 2014. Cuts in BW and EA grant in aid have already started but the full impact will not be known until the Autumn;
•    This makes third sector status even more important allowing the new body to access charitable funds and subscriptions whilst enjoying tax advantages and seeking to exploit volunteer effort more effectively.
•    Including EA waters, and eventually others, may realise some saving from an economy of scale whilst also improving the branding of the new body, but the main benefit will be more seamless administration and consistent approach to management, regulation and charges.
•    IWA believes that ALL of the BW property portfolio should be charity locked so that its income goes to the third sector body.

IWA Campaigning

IWA has been very active in campaigning for the IWC, suitable governance arrangements and also adequate funding. Since the change in government IWA has lobbied senior Defra civil servants and Ministers together with other key influential stakeholders as well as supporting numerous consultations and working groups.

 An IWA parliamentary reception in June enabled engagement with new supportive MPs of all parties. This is already paying dividends with IWA initiated parliamentary questions being raised by MPs and an adjournment debate on the future of the waterways secured at which the Minister made a number of very helpful comments. IWA’s approach has been one of cooperation rather than confrontation, so that much of what IWA is doing is not necessarily evident to members. This approach seems to have raised the credibility of IWA in government circles, as indicated by the appointment of Clive Henderson as BWAF Chairman and an ‘Observer’ to the BW board.

The financial climate is very different from that pertaining when the SOW and more recently SOS campaigns were launched. Then, Defra and the waterways appeared to be singled out. Now there are deep cuts across most government departments with widespread redundancies, pay freezes and pension reductions in the public sector and potentially significant cuts in public services.

Clearly this is a challenging time to secure public support for waterways and we have to be more subtle in our approach, continue with cooperation and avoid direct public criticism of what the government is doing. IWA will keep this policy under review, and in particular revisit it after the CSR outcome is known. A key question at that time will be whether the waterway funding has been disproportionately reduced.

IWA key campaign points:

•    IWA is campaigning hard for the future management arrangements for the waterways together with suitable funding;
•    Much of this campaigning has to go on behind the scenes with civil servants and Ministers, and the emphasis is now one of cooperation rather than confrontation;
•    This approach has raised the credibility of IWA in official circles as indicated by the appointment of Clive Henderson as BWAF Chairman and also as an observer to the BW Board;
•    IWA does not believe that Clive’s appointments represent a conflict of interest, but will keep this under review.

Waterway Closures

With a very difficult financial climate some may be concerned over the impact this might have on keeping waterways open. There can be no guarantees, but there is no need for any scaremongering at this stage. The proposed new governance arrangements would mean that IWA and appropriate waterway societies would have a key role in setting local priorities and making any future difficult decisions.

IWA key campaign points:

•    Under new governance arrangements IWA and local waterway societies would have a role in setting local priorities and making some difficult decisions;
•    IWA will fight suggestions of permanent closures of any waterways;
•    IWA will strive to ensure that any unforeseen temporary closures are rectified as soon as reasonably practicable.

Abolition of IWAC

As widely foreseen, the new government has set about a major cull of non-departmental public bodies (quangos) across all aspects of public service. One casualty of this is the Inland Waterways Advisory Council (IWAC). Since its relaunch in 2007, IWAC has conducted useful research and produced some very helpful reports to support the case for the waterways.
Whilst its abolition is a matter of regret, there is no point in challenging a main plank of government policy. Consideration should be given as to how essential supporting research can still be conducted when necessary. This could be commissioned by Defra or by the new waterway body. Alternatively this could be an opportunity for IWA to commission focussed research to support campaigning, subject to adequate funding becoming available.

IWA key campaign points:

•    The various IWAC reports made a valuable contribution to the waterways cause, but IWA understands that a cull of quangos is a key tenet of government policy;
•    Alternative means of conducting essential research may have to found and there could be a role for IWA in this.

IWA 2010 AGM and Trustee Ballot

The 2010 Annual General Meeting of the Association will be held on Saturday 25th September 2010 at 2pm.  The venue for the meeting will be The Grove School, Stafford Street, Market Drayton, Shropshire, TF9 1HF. www.waterways.org.uk/agm/agm

The officers’ and members’ meeting is at 10 am as usual. The promotions and communications committee will be formulating an agenda which will be circulated before hand to branches and any members expressing an interest in advance. It is requested that should there be any particular issues that branches and members would care to have discussed could they please let Jo Gilbertson know so that arrangements can be made for the appropriate officer of the trustee board , or committee to assist in providing the fullest response.

A two course hot lunch £6, Steak pie, chips & peas, plus dessert; (also vegetarian option)  is available on a pre-booked and paid basis. To book please go to: https://www.iwashop.com/ecommerce/proddetail.asp?prod=AGM2010

Members are advised there is a ballot paper appended to the centre pages of the Autumn edition of Waterways magazine (issued week commencing 1st August) for the election of IWA trustees, together with a brief biography of each candidate. This year there are seven trustees standing for five positions. Please don’t miss out on your opportunity to participate in IWA's democratic process.

An electronic voting form is available at http://www.waterways.org.uk/agm/ballot

IWA Web Site Changes

Those who regularly look at the web site will probably have noticed that a great deal more information has been added recently - over 175 pages have been added or revised during the past month alone, and an increasing number of branches are now putting up their own information.  Whilst there remains a long list of new areas that we wish to cover on the web site when resources permit, the site should now cover the full range of information that was on the previous site, as well as many new pages.

If you spot any errors or omissions to the site that you feel need to be addressed, please advise David Forrester  david.forrester@waterways.org.uk

 Phase II of the web site, including an events module with searchable geo-location (for IWA and 3rd party events, with on-line booking), forum module (for private or public discussions), photo gallery (and for archive purposes) and video streaming, has been commissioned from the IT providers, with the specification near to being signed off, and is currently planned to go live in October.

Lock Wheelers Required for Festival

IWA has been asked by BW to see if there are any of our members, in the relevant branches, who could volunteer to lock wheel on the Southern Oxford and Southern Grand Union canals, as boats make their way to Beale Park for the National Festival. The reason is that, despite the recent rain, BW still has thrift measures in place and our volunteers are well placed to understand the need for these measures and to undertake the necessary work to conserve as much water as possible.

If you are able to help supervise at any locks along these routes then please let us know as soon as possible and I can then pass this on to BW. BW will, in turn, provide some sort of visual recognition that volunteers are working with their blessing and authority.
For more information or to apply ; Please contact David.forrester@waterways.org.uk   01494 783453

Situations Vacant - Residential Caretaker - Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation

An opportunity has arisen for a residential caretaker position on the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation

It comes with a residential mooring (with local authority planning permission) at Sandford Mill on the Navigation, for which the incumbent will be charged the going rate (dependent on boat length). The post holder will be expected to spend a minimum of 8 hours per week undertaking maintenance and security duties at the moorings area (e.g. grass cutting) for which they will receive a modest salary.

For more information or to apply for the position go to: http://www.waterways.org.uk/essex_waterways/boating/residential_vacancy

 or contact the navigation manager Colin Edmonds on 01245 226245 or 07966 375351

Other News

Rivers Running Low Despite Rain

One in three of the rivers in England and Wales are running low despite July being the wettest month of the year so far. The latest Environment Agency figures show that 17 of the 47 major river flows in England and Wales are below average.

Most of the rivers running lower than normal are in the South West, South East or Midlands, where people have enjoyed a hot, dry summer.

Even in the North West, where there has been torrential rain recently, the river Dee is still “notably low” because of dry weather earlier in the year.


Leeds-Liverpool Closure; Canal Boats Moved to Avoid Entrapment.

Hire boat operators have had to relocate their boats east on the canal to West Yorkshire as a 60-mile stretch of the Leeds-Liverpool canal is closed. The Rochdale Canal is currently as yet unaffected by closure due to the ongoing water shortage, restrictions are however in place to conserve water.



Meanwhile, work has begun to repair a leak in the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. The leak, in Grimshaw Park, Blackburn has been the subject of a dispute over responsibility since it was first spotted around four weeks ago. British Waterways has been convinced it’s their responsibility.


Oxford Canal

British Waterways has been awarded £100,000 from Oxfordshire County Council towards a £115,000 project to improve the Oxford Canal towpath in Jericho.
The grant, from Oxfordshire County Council’s Developer Contribution Fund, will enable a 750-metre section of towpath between Walton Well Road Bridge and Isis Lock to be improved, with an upgraded surface and new passing places. The eight-week project will begin on the 2 August 2010.


Banbury MP Tony Baldry has unveiled a blue plaque by the Oxford Canal in the town in memory of Tom Rolt, the man credited with saving the country’s canal network.


Olympic Park

British Waterways has reopened a derelict lock on Waterworks River in East London for the first time in over 40 years following a restoration project costing £400,000.
A flotilla of boats from the St Pancras Cruising Club and the Three Mills Mooring Association were the first public boats through the lock on Saturday 31 July.

City Mill Lock now links Waterworks River, which is one of a network of waterways that connect the Olympic Park with the River Lee Navigation, and from there the rest of the UK’s inland waterway network of canals and rivers.


Carpenters Road Lock.  We understand that BW are now turning their attention to the restoration of the derelict Carpenters Road Lock. However these works cannot be completed until after the Olympic Games have taken place as the lock site is currently surrounded by temporary 'Land Bridges' erected to convey people to the Olympic Stadium. These 'bridges' will be demounted after the Games as part of the Legacy Park proposals.

Workboat Auction

British Waterways is auctioning off over 40 redundant workboats in an online sale. The auction, which closes on 29 September 2010, includes workboats, hoppers, a selection of British Waterways' historic craft


River Thames £3.8m Upgrade.

£3.8 million is to be spent over the winter on upgrading navigation on the Thames. New lock gates, better mooring sites and improved non-powered boat access will be created later this year.

Eighteen structures will benefit in all with the largest projects at Hurley and Sandford in Berkshire, where locks will get £1.5m worth of improvements.
The work, across Oxfordshire, Surrey, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, will see 15 locks affected by temporary closures between October and March.



About People


We are saddened to report the recent death of David Martin, former trustee and region chairmen of what was then IWA's South East Midlands Region, from July 1970 until September 1974, when on a reorganisation its area was formed into Eastern Region.  David was also involved with WRG in its early days, and his late wife Christine looked after Navvies subscriptions for many years.