IWA PRESS RELEASE
Issue Date: 18 June 2010
IWA HOLDS WELL ATTENDED RECEPTION FOR NEW MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT
IWA held its first reception for MPs elected to the new Parliament on Tuesday 15 June. It was hosted by the Rt Hon Alun Michael MP. The purpose was for IWA to give new MPs a briefing on the importance of the inland waterways to Britain and the problems which must be overcome if they are to continue to flourish.
Alun Michael, a former waterways Minister, gave a brief introduction, explaining how his time as waterways Minister had ingrained in him just how valuable the inland waterways are to the nation. Clive Henderson, IWA Chairman, then gave a brief presentation to set the scene for the reception. The key issues that he raised were:
· The benefits that the waterways can convey – regeneration; a focus for social cohesion and integration; a facility for community health and recreation.
· The continued use of suitable waterways for freight movements.
· The need for infrastructure funding.
· How in times of great strain for the public finances, there is no better time for the Government to seriously consider the formation of an Inland Waterways Conservancy, initially comprising the British Waterways and Environment Agency navigations, gaining the cost efficiencies that would be realised by such a merger.
The reception was well attended - 24 MPs representing all the major political parties, with many others unable to attend asking for a briefing when possible, confirming that the inland waterways remain apolitical for MPs. IWA had representatives on hand from around the country to engage with MPs about what benefits specific waterways can provide for their individual constituencies.
The event was also attended by senior representatives from British Waterways, the Environment Agency and Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs).
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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, (www.essexwaterways.com) having stepped in to prevent its closure in 2005.
IWA actively supports waterway restoration, and through its waterways restoration volunteering organisation, Waterway Recovery Group (www.wrg.org.uk), 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 www.waterways.org.uk