Cross Party Support for New Waterways Charity at IWA Parliamentary Dinner

Issue Date: 9 March 2011

The Inland Waterways Association (IWA) held its annual parliamentary dinner on Tuesday 8th March.

In attendance were the waterways minister, Richard Benyon MP; former waterways ministers, The Rt Hon Alun Michael MP (Labour), Tony Baldry MP (Conservative) and Jonathan Shaw; together with The Rt Hon Cheryl Gillan MP, Secretary of State for Wales, who is IWA’s  local constituency MP. Anne McIntosh, chairman of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs select committee, and Roger Williams, Liberal Democrat spokesman for the waterways, also attended, together with 13 other MPs with key riparian constituencies. Tony Hales, and Robin Evans chairman and CEO of British Waterways and Dr Paul Leinster CEO of the Environment Agency were also present.

The dinner provided the opportunity to inform those present, of IWA’s support for the principle of the New Waterways Charity, and to focus on the best practical approach, so that progress to third sector status could be successful. This had to include, ensuring that adequate funding and other issues surrounding governance, together with the ability to subsequently include other waterways were properly accommodated.

There was a lively discussion within the room throughout the dinner, but a general consensus emerged from all sides of the political spectrum present that a third sector approach appeared to be a positive way forward, and that there was a case for the All Party Parliamentary Waterways Group to reconvene and to look at these issues during the consultation period.  Alun Michael announced that he was taking positive steps to reconvene the group. The MPs present showed their support to Alun Michael and Tony Baldry over this undertaking , which is to proceed with  assistance from IWA’s  campaign team.

After dinner Alun Michael was named as IWA’s Parliamentarian of the year for 2011.


Notes For Editors


The Inland Waterways Association is a registered charity, founded in 1946, which advocates the conservation, use, maintenance, restoration and development of the inland waterways for public benefit.

IWA works closely with navigation authorities, national and local authorities, voluntary, private and public sector organisations. We campaign and lobby for support and encourage public participation in the inland waterways. IWA also manages the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation for the public benefit, through its subsidiary Essex Waterways, having stepped in to prevent its closure in 2005.

IWA actively supports waterway restoration, and through its waterways restoration volunteering organisation, Waterway Recovery Group, organises and subsidises over 20, week-long waterway restoration working holidays for volunteers of all ages throughout the UK each year, as well as conducting multiple work parties around the country on most weekends. This particularly enables young people to participate in the preservation and restoration of our heritage, and in doing so learn construction and heritage skills.

More than 500 miles of canals and navigable rivers have been re-opened to public use since the Association was founded in 1946. The Association is working to restore a further 500 miles of derelict inland waterways.

IWA is organised into 35 local branches covering geographical areas of the country, through which volunteers coordinate activities as diverse as policing planning applications through the waterway corridor, organising festivals and events to raise public awareness, providing engineering expertise, raising money for restoration schemes, and providing education on the value and benefits of their local waterways.

There is much more information at



Rt Hon Alun Michael MP ( Right) receiving his award from IWA national chairman Clive Henderson.


Waterway minister Richard Benyon MP speaking to former waterway minister Tony Baldry MP