British Waterways future – threat or opportunity?

Those of us who live within the city centre are directly affected by our canals. Now the Government wants them to become a charity.

Many of us live alongside them, others use them as aggreeable commuting routes, and they are great for exercising. And, of course, some live on them and use them for holidays.

Buried in the recent spending cuts announcement, the coalition Government confirmed that it wants British Waterways to become a charitable organisation, like the National Trust.
If you noticed this bit of small print, it may well have worried you – it certainly had that effect on me.
However there is some hope. It seems that the Inland Waterways Association has been active on this prospect for some time and believes that this could be a positive opportunity. You can read their views on their website by clicking on this link:-

http://www.waterways.org.uk/campaigns/news/press_releases/iwa_welcomes_government_decision_on_british_waterways

(If you are unfamiliar with the Inland Waterways Association, it is a mouthpiece for the community of people involved with the canals, rivers and lakes. It’s not just for boaters! The rest of their website willl give you lots more about them.)

This change in BWs status looks like an important change and, what’s more, one that we can influence directly.

Do you want to become actively involved? And what would you want do?
What do you think?

David Foster

4 thoughts on “British Waterways future – threat or opportunity?

  1. David Foster

    Only a very small fraction of the city centre individuals, who are directly interested in the canals in their neighbourhoods, have already rolled up their sleeves and got their hands dirty in canal restoration work. So I’m not yet convinced that the supply of volunteers has yet dried up.
    If we could generate imaginative ideas we might yet stimulate wider interest.

    But perhaps I’m seeing roseate porcine aeronauts again!!

    David Foster

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  3. Geoff Caine

    Being aware already of the content of Simon’s remarks I would add the following.
    There is already mass voluntary involvement in the restoration of the canals by dedicated local trusts and also by nationally organised restoration bodies.
    Whilst I agree with the policy of moving towards a National Trust voluntary scenario, many canal users believe that there is already total consumption of volunteers.
    Support and maintenance of the canals is, I believe, unlike that of the National Trust properties in that it requires people to actively engage in messy maintenance and restoration (rolling up their sleeves and getting stuck in) rather than standing around the supported houses, willing to give out information – a worthy cause but essentially different in demands.
    The situation is different, therefore, and I fail to see how a third sector status can generate any further involvement, especially as The Big Society’s aim is to involve more citizens in contributing, free of charge, to their local neighborhood’s needs, let alone demands further afield!
    Geoff

  4. simon gray

    as somebody more directly affected than anybody else by this, i’m keen to be involved.

    to clarify, it’s not just the new government that has decided to convert bw into a charitable trust, but it’s something which has been under discussion for over a year – and is something that bw itself has been pushing for. bw believes that the change in status will be beneficial rather than a threat, as it apparently wll give it access to funding opportunities which have previously been denied to it.

    of course, how and whether that will pan out is something which will remain to be seen…

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