BW Annual Report and Accounts published

Published: Saturday, 18 July 2009
BRITISH Waterways has just published its Annual Report and Accounts, and very upbeat it is too. It is published in a 90 pages document, and here is the official summary of the document from BW:

British Waterways' Annual Report & Accounts records a year of historic milestones across the 200 years old network including: the reconnection of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal with Liverpool Docks; the creation of a navigable link into London's Olympic Park; go ahead for the extension of the Forth & Clyde Canal as part of the HELIX Project and; the reopening of the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal on time and on budget. Visits to British Waterways' canals, rivers and docks increased by 7% to 262.6 million and £100m was invested in the upkeep of the historic network.

Change from public to private

Much of the work has been funded through a combination of: British Waterways' commercial activities and licences; grants from the UK and Scottish Governments and; contributions from partners in local authorities, charities, regional development agencies and the lottery. In the longer term British Waterways believes that a more sustainable model is required to care for the nation's waterway network, potentially with a change from public to charitable sector status within the next ten years.

Chief Executive Robin Evans explains:

"Fifty years ago only the most optimistic of waterway campaigners could have imagined that in the first decade of the 21st century the waterways would be busier than ever and we would even be building and opening up new routes. This is a remarkable transformation and one that everyone who cares for the waterways wants to continue.

"I believe the key to the waterways' continuing growth and vitality lies with giving a far greater role to the communities that live by and on them. For this to happen we need to change and we need to prove ourselves as the sort of organisation that people will give up their time, money and enthusiasm to support. Our proposal that we should become a third sector organisation by 2020 has been warmly received by a wide range of stakeholders and we are now exploring in more detail how such a transition might work in practice.

"In the short term, we are going to have to face a very challenging few years ahead as the economic downturn begins to bite. We have begun the difficult process of an internal restructure and efficiency drive which will return £10 million per year to our maintenance budget. This is only possible thanks to the exceptional skill and dedication of British Waterways staff and the backing of our many stakeholders, partners and funders to whom I would like to pay tribute. The waterways have more friends and supporters than at any time in living memory and this is a trend that we must continue."

Key figures from the Report & Accounts:

  • The completion of a series of major canal partnership projects across the country including reconnecting the Leeds & Liverpool Canal with Liverpool's historic docks; opening up access into London's Olympic Park with the new Three Mills Lock, completing the first phase of the Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal restoration and starting work on the restoration of the Droitwich Canals

  • Finalised a partnership agreement with Falkirk Council to extend the Forth & Clyde Canal down the River Carron as part of the HELIX Project

  • £100m spent on maintaining the waterways including the major repair of the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal completed on time and to a budget of £7.5m

    Completed partnership agreements for the generation of renewable energy and sustainable canal-cooling systems

  • An estimated £500m of public benefit to society—a six-fold return on every £1 of taxpayer money spent on the waterways;

  • £36.1m was invested in British Waterways' network by partners in local authorities, regional development agencies, charities and the lottery;

  • Boat licence income increased by 13% due to increased boat numbers, higher licence fees and a reduction in evasion rates;

  • Government confirmed that British Waterways' property endowment in England and Wales, which has again this year out-performed the Investment Property Databank (the most widely accepted benchmark for performance in the property market), would stay in the public corporation's ownership. The investment value of the estate fell by 15% in a property market which has fallen on average by 26%;

  • Share of losses from joint ventures was £33m due mainly to the lower than forecast values in property development work in progress;

  • Property income over the year increased by 17% to £45.6m and other sources of income held up well against the recession with a positive underlying trend.

The full report is available to view online at: