Issue date: 14 June 2011
The Inland Waterways Association (IWA) has submitted its detailed response to Defra’s consultation document – A New Era for the Waterways – on the Government’s proposals to transfer the canals and rivers managed by British Waterways into a charitable body.
The 25 page response by IWA not only answers the questions posed by Defra in its consultation document, but raises other issues that Government has, in IWA’s opinion, missed and that the interim trustees need to additionally take into account. It also offers practical advice and solutions for many of the issues raised.
Clive Henderson, IWA national chairman, said:
“IWA still sees clear advantages for Britain’s navigable inland waterways being managed by a third sector body. However, several concerns to the consultation proposals remain, primary of which is the apparent lack of funding necessary to maintain the waterways in a safe and usable condition, a matter on which IWA recently gave evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Waterways Group chaired by the Rt Hon Alun Michael MP. (Read IWA evidence)
We believe that the indicative funding currently does not appear to stack up in delivering a sustainable charity. It appears conservatively to be some £15- £45 million p.a. short of what is required. Incidentally, by way of comparison, that is between around 180- 550 metres worth of the Government's proposed High Speed rail project. Additionally, BW has already revised its figures for charitable giving down from £8.5m as stated in the consultation document to £5.5-6m. We always thought the figures were too optimistic, and they still may be.
IWA believe that much of the overall funding deficit could be ameliorated by adopting simple solutions such as Government retaining the liability for the pension fund for current retired BW employees and simple indexing of the Government's funding settlement.