UK: Inland Waterways Association Issues Call to Arms Over Waterway Funding

IWA is asking all waterway supporters to act now to secure the future of the Canal and River Trust. Things are at a critical juncture for the transfer of British Waterways​’ managed canals and rivers into the Canal and River Trust. The money is everything. A good deal from Defra will deliver a significant Big Society project, and secure the future of a national asset. IWA is concerned however, that Defra is playing hard ball, and trying to impose a lean deal just to get BW off its books.

IWA is asking all waterway supporters to urgently:

– Write to MP drawing their attention to the fact that the waterways are being transferred over into the charitable sector, and that it is vital that the funding package is sufficient that it allows them to be maintained in a sustainable condition.

– Ask MP to contact the Waterways Minister Richard Benyon MP, directly, to register their concern, and to ensure that he knows that there needs to be more money put on the table.

IWA’s Key points:

– Government has initially offered to transfer the British Waterways (BW) property portfolio to CRT and to provide a 10 year funding contract indicated at cash £39 million per year. (so no index linking with the consequence of erosion in value over time by inflation). This is just not enough.

– BW has thoroughly updated its financial projections. It says that for its waterways to be reasonably maintained, with an acceptable level of risk, it has an annual funding deficit of £20 million. The CRT would inherit this annual deficit. The BW new projections do not appear to embrace the remedy of a repairs deficit which was already significant and has been growing in recent years [in 2007 reported to EFRA Select Committee as being an accumulated figure of £107million].

– British Waterways also has a pension deficit of £65 million. Nearly three quarters of which is in respect of previous employees. Ought this huge state incurred liability be transferred over to the new charity?

– The revised annual deficit does not take account of a large dredging backlog incurred as a result of chronic underfunding, that requires £8-12 million per year to stabilise, and ensure drainage, navigation and environmental requirements are properly supported.


Source: waterways, November 4, 2011

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