Little interest in new 'charity'

Published: Saturday, 07 May 2011

THERE is very little interest in British Waterways becoming a charity, with even its Chief Executive Officer, Robin Evans, admitting to his Board a month ago that he was disappointed at the low level of enthusiasm among stakeholders.

This is despite the huge amount of communication effort that has been made, and the resulting publicity, writes Allan Richards.

Invited Board members

Clive Henderson, Inland Waterways Association Chairman and observer to the British Waterways Board responded to the admission by inviting Board members to attend the next British Waterways Advisory Forum meeting which was to consider this move to the third sector.

So how many of British Waterways' ten board members demonstrated enthusiasm for the new charity by attending this important meeting of stakeholder representatives? Just two out of 10! John Bridgeman, British Waterways' Vice Chairman and Rodney Green. This compares with five board attendees at a meeting two years ago.

Board apathetic

So how does British Waterways expect stakeholders to show enthusiasm for the new charity when it is blatantly obvious that its own Board is apathetic?

As Government intends to appoint three Board directors as unpaid transition trustees, one is left wondering where they will find a third who is willing to take his (or her) nose out of the trough for long enough to act in that capacity.

Need reminding

An online poll in Motor Boat Monthly asks 'Are you in favour of the new waterways management charity, set to be created in 2012 by the merger of British Waterways and the Environment Agency?'

This is, of course, the missing question in Defra's current consultation on the new charity. The one they dare not ask! Still running, the poll has remained fairly consistent showing a low level of enthusiasm for the charity. Current figures show only 38% are in favour.

However, even this low level of enthusiasm amongst the public is higher than that being demonstrated by British Waterways' board.

Perhaps British Waterways need reminding that charity begins at home.