IWA gives cautious welcome to BW restructuring

Published: Thursday, 30 April 2009

THE Inland Waterways Association today gave a cautious welcome to British Waterways’ announcement on restructuring, whilst offering sympathy to those facing redundancy. The association had been outspoken on the need for BW to trim, what it perceived as a top heavy operation, and as such saw the news of a slimming down of management posts as a necessary and unavoidable action. IWA also welcomed the news of likely savings of some £10 million per annum being made available for BW to use for waterways maintenance as a result of the changes.

Clive Henderson, National Chairman explained:

“No one likes to learn of redundancies, but we are living in lean times, and British Waterways needs to make these changes. I congratulate British Waterways for grasping the nettle of top heavy structures of management that we had previously criticised; and we welcome the huge savings that are expected to be realised, which will allow British Waterways to carry out essential works which the funding deficit would otherwise have prevented.”

"IWA looks forward to seeing the new structures implemented quickly, and wishes to encourage its members and other waterways users to support and encourage British Waterways’ staff during a difficult time of transition”.

IWA also welcomed the innovative thinking BW is giving to closing the £30 million funding gap each year between the money it needs to maintain the network and the amount it receives from revenue and Government grant.

Though concerned that the preferred option will lead to full funding of the network; How the existing public benefits, which are safeguarded under public ownership, will remain secure; Waterways users who pay for use through fees and charges, such as boaters and anglers, do not become vulnerable to unreasonable and unwarranted increases.

Of the other authorities, Clive commented:

“There are of course other navigation authorities with funding issues, such as the Environment Agency. These need to be addressed equally, and solutions applied, under the funding framework for the waterways which Defra will need to develop for the revised Waterways for Tomorrow.”