Wednesday 23 February 2011

Waterways petition.

Last year a petition to the prime minister was instigated to help protect our waterways by not selling off property owned by British Waterways prior to becoming an inland waterways chartity.

The petition was submitted by Ian Rees with a deadline to sign up of the 6 June 2010.  The petition was well supported with 22,310 signatures appended. The petition is now closed, as its deadline has passed.

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to protect our canals by not selling off property owned by British waterways. Further to recent announcements concerning the potential sell-off of properties owned by British Waterways by the Treasury, we petition the Prime Minister to give assuarnces that our canals will be protected and recent levels of investement, a credit to Labour, is maintained. Our canals are great source of pleasure for many people in the country, providing a source of employment through tourism and associated businesses. They're also home to many forms of wildlife. Without proper management this will ebb away and the network return to a state of decay and ruin. We urge the Government to allow British Waterways to retain its property portfolio, protecting its essential source of revenue and ensure the sustainability of its work.

Government has now responded.

On 14 October 2010 the Government announced that British Waterways would be abolished as a public corporation and that we would create a new charity, similar to a national trust for the waterways. Details of the public consultation on the proposed model, including scope and governance, will be announced within the coming few weeks. The new waterways charity is expected to be set up in 2012, subject to Parliamentary consent and time. A civil society model for British Waterways reflects the Government’s commitment to Big Society, as well as its confidence in British Waterways to work with others to build a sustainable future for the waterways under a charitable model. A charitable company will give users and communities more responsibility for governance of the waterways. It also has the potential to enable the new body to access new income streams and greater public support at a time when there is considerable pressure on other sources of income. Charitable status would also facilitate a step change in volunteering, enhanced local partnership working and a range of cost efficiencies. The Government will give the new charity the best start it can afford, with the transfer of the property portfolio and a long term contract. As a first step, the Government has provided a new long term commitment to a grant allocation at the 2014/15 level (£39m) to 2022/23 inclusive (covering the next two Spending Review periods) that will enable the development of a funding plan which gives confidence to the incoming Trustees of the new charity. The amount and length of the contract will be subject to negotiation with the Trustees, who will be appointed this April.

Now I think it is time to petition the PM to exclude members of the current BW board from playing any "non voluntary roll" in the the new waterways charity.

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