National Waterways Conservancy

Issue date: 1 February 2010

The Inland Waterways Association is relieved that Government has stepped back from the brink regarding any immediate sale of British Waterways’ Property portfolio. The announcement in the Operational Efficiency Programme: Asset Portfolio document ended recent speculation that there were immediate plans to sell BW’s property to fund the National Debt. (visit www.hmg.gov.uk/
media/52715/oep-assetportfolio.pdf
).

National chairman Clive Henderson said: “We have been lobbying Government, privately and publicly, ever since rumours of this sale surfaced. That has included the orchestration of a political lobby in the Commons and the Lords. We have also given vociferous support to the online petition, that has achieved an unprecedented public response in only a matter of days.
We are delighted with the public’s support for the campaign. This decision supports all the economic arguments.

British Waterways’ property contributes some £45m per annum towards the £125m the company needs to maintain its inland waterways network, and to have sold the assets would have had dire consequences for the waterways, not only from a maintenance point of view but also in terms of British Waterways vision for becoming a Third Sector organisation.”

Meanwhile, a new document from BW published on 17th December sets out more detail of intentions and demonstrates that it has listened to IWA’s views and concerns (visit www.britishwaterways.co.uk/twentytwenty/setting-a-new-course). Key features in response to
IWA’s views include: a clear statement that BW could not survive without government funding; acknowledgement that government could use the opportunity of changed status to reduce their funding of the waterways; the final paragraph in section 5.3 is as close as IWA believes that BW could be expected to go at this stage in suggesting that their remit be extended to non BW
waterways; a suggestion that with the new structure a change of name might be appropriate.

IWA is to consult its branches and regions and formulate a detailed response in due course.