IWA Chairman accepts position as Observer to BW board

Issue date: 22 July 2010

Clive Henderson, IWA national chairman, yesterday accepted an invitation to take on the interim role as ‘Observer’ to the BW Board. He will attend all Board Meetings until the final appointment of two  Special Advisors to the BW Board, who will support the proposed transition of British Waterways into the third sector or civil society.

The role follows a letter from the British Waterways Advisory Forum (BWAF) to the Minister asking for more stakeholder involvement at Board level at a time of transition. Clive's twin roles as Chair of IWA and Chair (designate) of BWAF made him an ideal candidate to offer such advice as soon as possible.  The interim nature of the appointmet recognises the fact that Defra officials have been asked to continue work on the policy now and that 'waiting until (possibly) November for the fuller process to complete would miss valuable opportunities.'

In taking up this interim position as ‘Observer’, Clive seeks to continue influence strategy in shaping the future of the waterways. Particularly, in ensuring as far as possible, the early inclusion of EA navigations in any new organisation, in ensuring that governance arrangements are such that the resulting organisation is wholly different in nature to the existing one, is lean thinking in terms of its administrative structure and properly represents the views of stakeholders and especially users.

In seeking to work from within the organisation, IWA hopes to continue in the same way in which it has recently actively worked (and will continue so)with MPs, Defra officials, EA and BW. By sitting round the table and clearly stating points of issue and concern, and then as part of a constructive debate, offering positive solutions that are practical, cost effective, and which can be readily adopted.

Whilst acknowledging that this does not always secure the exact result desired, and often requires some element of compromise, it is perceived to be more successful in gaining IWAs overall strategic objectives, and in developing a genuinely shared agenda than the previous methods of direct criticism without political engagement, which have been deemed to marginalize and render us ineffective in effecting real change.

Speaking on behalf of IWA, Clive Henderson said of his appointment : “We are at a crossroads in the history of the waterways.  The goal that so many campaigners have worked so long and so hard to achieve is within sight and we have a British Waterways and a Government who are genuinely open to new ideas of working.  I am delighted to have the chance to play a role in the reshaping of British Waterways.”