Thursday, October 14, 2010

British Waterways Hive Off Affects Canal Boat Holidays

Well this is the press release from British Waterways, but what are the longer term implications for canal boat holidays?

British Waterways welcomes the UK Government’s announcement today (14/10/10) of its intention to transfer British Waterways’ inland waterways in England and Wales into a new charitable body. The move, promoted by British Waterways for the last 18 months, will be the biggest shake up of the waterways since nationalisation in 1948. It will attract new investment, secure jobs and give the public greater involvement in the running of canals and rivers.

The announcement by the Cabinet Office that British Waterways will be replaced with a new civil society body builds on recommendations by British Waterways for the establishment of a ‘national trust’ for the waterways, as waterway minister, Richard Benyon MP, explains:

Waterways Minister, Richard Benyon said, "Our waterways are a cherished feature of the British landscape and a source of joy to many. Transferring British Waterways from Government to a charitable body will give users of the waterways a greater say in their future management and help to ensure they remain a wonderful part of our natural and cultural heritage of value to society and the economy. 

"This change reflects the confidence we have that the engagement of local communities and interest groups will ensure the success of this transfer to civil society, building on the good work of British Waterways and countless waterways enthusiasts. It’s a great example of Government giving power back to the people."

BW have been promoting a move to charitable status for more than a year saying that it will attract new investment, secure jobs and give greater involvement in the running of canals and rivers to the public.

BW chairman, Tony Hales,  welcomed the announcement saying, "This is excellent news and something we have been urging all political parties to support since last year". 

The Government intends to have the new body up and running by April 2012 but no decision has been made yet about including the Environment Agency navigations  or the Scottish canals in the new body.

So the government has announced a BW move to charity status by 2012. The Cabinet Office announced today that British Waterways will  be replaced with a new civil society — as recommended by BW — to become in effect a 'national trust' for the waterways.

BW cares for 2,200 miles of historic canals, rivers and docks in England, Scotland and Wales. It funds its work through a combination of commercial income from property and licences, Government and third party grants, and partnerships with a broad range of public, private and voluntary sector partners.

Since May 2009, BW has been calling for the creation of a new ‘national trust’ for the waterways as a way of encouraging greater public engagement and creating new funding opportunities.