Local authorities funding waterways

Published: Thursday, 25 March 2010

Local authorities are accountable to their local ratepayers, whose interests seldom extend beyond the basics of keeping essential services running, writes Paul Burke.

Unless the 'involvement' is guaranteed by a law stronger than any of the existing local government acts, it's difficult to see why any local authority would pay anything towards the waterways. Which, of course, is exactly what happened in the case of the late lamented Basingstoke Canal.


Is there a proposal to increase central government's contribution above the current 75% of local authority revenue? If so, is this money to be ring fenced, and how does it reduce central government expenditure?

What is the point of funneling the money through an extra layer of bureaucracy? And if not ring fenced, how are local authorities to be persuaded not to spend the money elsewhere? And if they don't increase the central government grant, are local authorities expected to increase the rates to pay for the waterways? Which council in its right mind would do this, and how long would they remain in office?

Fire-sale prices

As for using the BW property endowment for funding, if it is 'Charity locked', how can they benefit from it? And if it can be disposed of, what is to prevent the custodians from disposing of it via third parties, to their own long-term profit? One only has to look at the privatisations of the last 25 years to see that it is seen as the norm for assets to be sold in the first instance at fire-sale prices, only for the acquirers to quickly 'discover' that the true value is very much higher.