PRESS RELEASE: Sir Tony Baldry MP Wins IWA's Parliamentarian of the Year Award

Issue date: 11th March 2014

Sir Tony Baldry MP received the “Parliamentarian of the Year Award” at The Inland Waterways Association’s (IWA) Award Dinner held at the House of Commons on Monday 10th March.

Sir Tony Baldry MP, a former Waterways Minister, was presented the award for his long history of support for IWA and the inland waterways. Whilst Waterways Minister, he attended and opened IWA's 1991 National Festival at Windmill End as well as attending one of IWA's Waterway Recovery Group digs on the Wilts & Berks Canal. Sir Tony has been a member of IWA for over 20 years and his influence on the inland waterways continues as co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Waterways Group.

The dinner saw lively discussion take place on various waterway issues.  Amongst the guests were about 20 MPs including the Waterways Minister, Dan Rogerson MP, and  four former Waterway Ministers, demonstrating a high level of ongoing support for the waterways. Also in attendance was a member of the House of Lords and representatives from Canal & River Trust.

During his address, Les Etheridge, IWA National Chairman, referred to the formation of Canal & River Trust (CRT), which represented a step towards IWA's vision of a National Waterways Conservancy. The Conservancy is an idea that the Association has promoted since the 1950s and advocates a single body to manage all the nation’s inland waterways. Les Etheridge thanked the previous Waterways Minister, Richard Benyon MP, for his support of the concept and for his help in securing the funding package for CRT.

Les Etheridge went on to say that IWA was encouraged that the transfer of the Environment Agency’s waterways to CRT remains Government Policy, but IWA was disappointed that the original timescale of transfer in 2015/16 had not been met.

Les Etheridge also commented on the impact of HS2 on the waterways. The merit of HS2 is an issue on which IWA has no view, but IWA is concerned that the inland waterways should be properly protected with any impacts on them mitigated.  IWA has been particularly concerned about the impact of HS2 in the Fradley are on the Trent & Mersey Canal near Lichfield.  IWA is also greatly concerned about phase 2 where the restoration of the Chesterfield Canal is threatened and where large amounts of volunteer work could be lost.

IWA identified an alternative route at Fradley with one crossing point, whereas the initial HS2 plans had four crossings of the canal in a very short distance. IWA and CRT jointly commissioned an independent engineering report which confirmed the viability of IWA’s proposed alternative route.
Les Etheridge said "Our inland waterways are enjoyed by millions of people every year.  We are all guardians of them and must act to ensure they can continue to be enjoyed by future generations, but Members of Parliament are in a unique position, and the Association is ever grateful that so many parliamentarians play a keen and active role in support for the Association’s work.  Sir Tony Baldry’s support has been regularly demonstrated over a period of more than 20 years and we are pleased to acknowledge him as a true and loyal friend of the waterways."
Dan Rogerson MP said “I value the importance of our waterways.  They are valuable not only in terms of our historic heritage but are used and enjoyed by countless numbers of people... The work that volunteers do for our inland waterways is invaluable to the upkeep of our waterways.  In 2013 there were over 10,000 [IWA] volunteer days spent on the inland waterways, which included many different aspects of the work that The Inland Waterways Association does including lock painting, vegetation clearance, brick laying and litter picking.  Their efforts like the work of many volunteers is greatly appreciated.”


Notes for editors - about IWA

Photo: Sir Tony Baldry MP receiving IWA's Parliamentarian of the Year Award from IWA National Chairman, Les Etheridge Download photo from Flickr

Photo: Sir Tony Baldry MP receiving IWA's Parliamentarian of the Year Award from IWA National Chairman, Les Etheridge

Download photo from Flickr