Canal News – Update from Canal & River Trustees by Water Watcher

Update from Canal & River Trustees, Dec 2011

Posted by Waterway Watcher on December 22nd, 2011

22 December 2011

The Transitional Trustees of the Canal & River Trust report:

1. Introduction

Since our last update in October we have continued to make good progress in forming the Canal & River Trust and, as 2011 draws to a close, we thought it would be useful to bring you up to date. A huge amount has been achieved over recent months towards transforming British Waterways in England & Wales into the Canal & River Trust. While the Parliamentary process looks as if it will now take longer than we had previously been advised, putting pressure on an April launch date, all the building blocks needed to establish the new Trust next year are falling into place.

Our knowledge and understanding of the waterways continues to grow apace, and we are grateful to all those inside and outside BW for their willingness to discuss openly the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. We have been hugely encouraged by the growing support and commitment to the Trust amongst stakeholders and the public and passionately believe that this enormous goodwill will be the bedrock on which we can all build a better and more stable future for our waterways.

2. Government Funding

We said in our October statement that we needed to persuade Government to increase their offer of £39m a year for 10 years. This remains one of the most important unresolved pieces of the Trust’s jigsaw. It is all taking a lot longer than either party would wish but given the challenge this is perhaps not surprising. We are still in detailed discussions with Defra that we hope to be able to bring to a conclusion early next year. We are pleased to report that all the meetings with Defra have been constructive and understanding.

At a recent All Party Parliamentary Waterways Group meeting the Waterways Minister, Richard Benyon, confirmed that the discussions were ongoing and being conducted in a professional and cooperative atmosphere. He expressed confidence that an agreement would be reached and reiterated his commitment to give the Canal & River Trust “the best possible start within the current funding restraints of government”. The Chair of the APPWG and MPs present were all positive about the creation of the Trust and expressed their encouragement for a fair and reasonable settlement to the funding discussions.

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