British Waterways to pilot ‘third sector’ local governance ideas with Kennet & Avon Canal Trust

Issue date: 1 June 2010

British Waterways  together with the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust are to pilot a consultative  approach to managing the 200-year old Kennet & Avon Canal.

Following discussions, which also included representatives from the Inland Waterways Association , the KACT and BW will work together in setting up a Waterways Partnership Board for the canal.

Members will be drawn from the highest level from the five local authorities and other key stakeholders who came together and led on the canal’s restoration.

The pilot includes reviewing the current plans of both organisations including development, operations, funding requirements etc. and by September agree and produce a combined Waterway Area Plan for the canal corridor which can be implemented by all partners.

It is hoped that the pilot will provide BW with valuable information and experience on how to put waterways on a 'more sustainable footing' and ensure the lessons are incorporated into the consultation on the setting up of a new third sector body.

Commenting on the pilot David Rees chair of the KACT said: “To ensure and safeguard the future of the Kennet & Avon Canal, and as a model to be considered for other waterways, it is essential that decision making and engagement comes closer to the people and organisations which it serves and is more integrated into local communities. A key feature will be the drive to attract more volunteers to the canal. We can achieve this by offering new opportunities and demonstrating that it's worth getting involved because there is a real chance to make a difference.”

Simon Salem, marketing director at British Waterways, said: “Local communities are crucial to the sustainability of their waterways. We hope we will learn a lot from this pilot and that it will inform further discussions on British Waterways' proposed move to the third sector.”

Clive Henderson IWA national chairman said: “We are delighted that this approach is being looked at as a model for ensuring firm local partnerships, as we want more local accountability. We are pleased to be part of that development process and will continue to help support it.”