Minister Considering 10-15 year deal for New Waterway Charity.

Issue date: 22 November 2010

IWA was present at an AINA conference on 15 November which considered the proposed move of the waterways into the third sector. Waterways Minister Richard Benyon MP, made the key note speech, and remained for questions afterwards.

The Minister expressed the view that Government saw the 'Big Society' involvement in running former state run operations as a flagship policy and was keen that British Waterways evolution into a new charity should be set up so that it could succeed. He stated that that the new organisation would not be financially worse off than if it were to remain within government control. He also confirmed that he envisaged that there would be a long term funding contract for the new charity, of between 10 and 15 years, and the property portfolio would be transferred , in order to ensure that the new body could be put on a stable financial footing.

The Minister additionally reiterated the need for a completely new form of governance arrangement with localism at its core.

On the subject of Environment Agency integration, he stated that work was ongoing to consider the full ramifications of such a move, and a decision would be made prior to consultation on preferred solutions to be made in the early new year.

Speaking later, Robin Evans from British Waterways confirmed that the new governance model envisaged the ministerial appointment of seven trustees to oversee the transitional arrangements to the new organisation who would be in place by April 2011. Three trustees would be from the existing board to ensure continuity, but four would be completely new appointees and be specifically appointed with a background capable of supporting and guiding the new charity during its formative stages.