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18 May 2009
British Waterways launched a national debate at the House of Commons on the future of Britain’s waterways and what their role would be in the 21st Century. British Waterways proposes that the organisation be taken out of direct state control and into a new ‘trust’ for the waterways.
May – November 2009
Over the six months from May to November British Waterways held a series of meetings with stakeholders to discuss its strategy with councils, the devolved assemblies, partners, waterway communities and the third sector organisations. In particular it discussed the ideas with Defra, which sponsors and funds the organisation’s activities in England and Wales, and with the Scottish Government, which is responsible for British Waterways Scotland. British Waterways also sought to debate the most appropriate structure for the new waterways charity.
7 December 2009
The UK Government ends speculation about the sale of British Waterways’ property endowment in England and Wales by announcing its preferred approach to "consider alternative models for the business as a whole, such as mutual or third sector structures."
17 December 2009
British Waterways publishes Setting a new course, Britain’s waterways in the third sector. The report, produced by a team of third sector experts, sets out in more detail what a third sector British Waterways would look like and incorporated input from waterway stakeholders including those at British Waterways' Annual Meeting.
23 December 2009
British Waterways’ chairman Tony Hales welcomes Defra’s consultation on its strategy for the inland waterways in England and Wales, Waterways for Everyone – which included the recommendation that British Waterways be mutualised.
24 March 2010
BW welcomes the UK Government’s announcement in its Budget Statement of plans to move England & Wales’ canal network into a ‘mutual’ organisation, such as a charitable trust. The Budget statement also recognises the importance of British Waterways’ property endowment in helping to fund the long-term care of the waterways and recommends that it be ‘charity locked’ for the benefit of the network. While the proposals relate only to British Waterways’ network in England and Wales, positive discussions are underway with the Scottish Government about how Scotland’s waterways can benefit from any proposed changes.
21 June 2010:
Richard Benyon, the new waterways minister, issues a written statement recognising the important role of Britain’s canals and rivers outlining the Government’s support for exploring a third sector model for the waterways. He says: “The Government considers civil society has a very valuable role to play in delivering public services as part of our commitment to creating a Big Society. We will therefore be continuing to look in detail at whether a third sector model would be appropriate for British Waterways, including the possible inclusion of the Environment Agency’s navigations as the other navigation authority grant aided by Government.”
14 October 2010
The Government announces its intention to transfer inland waterways in England and Wales into a new charitable body
8 November 2010
The Scottish Government announces that British Waterways Scotland will remain in the public sector, sponsored and funded by the Scottish Government. It will not be part of the new charitable trust which British Waterways in England and Wales will become by April 2012. Steve Dunlop, director, British Waterways Scotland, says: "Whilst we will be saddened to see the end of our cross-border organisation, the Scottish Government's decision heralds an exciting new chapter for the canals in Scotland.
The search is on to appoint seven 'Transition Trustees'who will be instrumental in establishing the new 'waterways trust'. Four of the trustees will be new and, to ensure continuity, three will be members of British Waterways’ existing Non-Executive Board.
Transition Trustees are expected to be in post in April 2011 and will form part of the charity's first Board when the charity takes over the running of the waterways in 2012.
The Government announces its intention to transfer British Waterways’ owned navigations in England and Wales to the New Waterways Charity in 2012.
The headline grabbing announcement that the Environment Agency’s navigations will move to the New Waterways Charity in 2015 is also made.
British Waterways' chairman, Tony Hales welcomes the Government's continued commitment to the planned 'waterways trust' and hopes the EA navigations will be able to benefit in the future.
30 March 2011
Defra announces the start of a three-month public consultation on the future of the waterways.
Exciting times as British Waterways’ chairman Tony Hales says: "I believe the proposals will build upon the recent waterway renaissance to ensure they never again revert to the dereliction and decline that saw part of the network abandoned and filled in during the 20th century.”
6 April 2011
Chairs are appointed to two new trial Local Waterway Partnerships in the West Midlands and the North West. Together with the trial already underway on the Kennet & Avon Canal, these new partnerships will work with local waterway managers until the new waterways charity becomes fully operational in 2012. Their role will be to advise and influence the management of canals and rivers.
21 April 2011
Pentagram, a multi-award winning design agency, agrees to work free-of-charge for British Waterways. The agency will offer free advice and guidance on the new waterways charity’s name, logo and imagery.
Pentagram is a global agency, whose clients include Citibank, The V&A, Tiffany & Co, The Co-operative and Tesco.
24 May 2011
The appointment of the founding trustees is announced. The eight founding trustees bring a wealth of senior level experience of managing heritage, volunteering, leisure, boating and commercial interests, and will work closely with the British Waterways Board until the charity takes control.
1 June 2011
Ruth Ruderham is appointed as the first ever head of fundraising.
Simon Salem, director of marketing at British Waterways, says: "Ruth will lead the waterways charity into a new era of voluntary giving. It’s one of the most exciting fundraising challenges around right now.”
14 June 2011
The final appointments are made to the trial waterway partnerships. The new partnerships will now work with waterway managers to advise on and influence the management of canals and rivers. Roger Hanbury, chief executive at The Waterways Trust, comments: “The applications to join the trial Local Partnerships show how much enthusiasm there is for the waterways, and the substantial body of support that the new waterways charity will be able to tap into.
24 June 2011
Plans are announced for the NWC to join forces with The Waterways Trust in April 2012.
BW chairman Tony Hales says this news is "tremendous" while Frances Done, chairman of The Waterways Trust is "delighted".
12 September 2011
Defra releases a report on its consultation about the charity move, showing broad support for the proposals. A supplementary consultation is launched into the legal framework for transfer of the waterways to the charity.
20 September 2011
The new waterways charity started recruiting people to chair its Local Waterways Partnerships - which will give local people a greater say in the running of their canals and rivers.
6 October 2011
It is announced that the new charity will be called the Canal & River Trust. The new logo, designed for free by agency Pentagram, is also unveiled.
The founding trustees release a detailed report into membership, governance, funding, management and other matters relating to the new charity.
21 November 2011
It is announced that nominations will open on 12 December for the elected roles on the Canal & River Trust Council. There will be four elected roles for boat license holders, two for boating businesses, and one for employees.
12 December 2011
There are now lots of opportunities for canal users to get involved with the Trust. Many of the Waterways Partnerships are recruiting for either Chairs or Members. Nominations are also open for people to stand for election to the Trust's Council. Recruitment is also underway for three new trustees.
20 December 2011
The Government responds to the supplementary consultation.
The response clarifies a number of technical aspects related to the Transfer Order, and confirms that the new Trust will be subject to the Freedom of Information Act for those statutory functions which it inherits from British Waterways.
22 December 2011
As the year draws to a close the Trustees publish a report on their progress to date.
15 January 2012
The transitional trustees for the new body are confident there will be a conclusion to the negotiations with Defra by the end of this month.
The agreement would smooth the way the launch of the trust in “late spring”, two months later than had been planned due to the wrangling over money.
Defra had been aiming for April 2012 but Parliamentary timetable now means that this may be delayed a month or two as the Trustees said on 22/12/11.
17 January 2012
In the House of Commons - Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes, Conservative) To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the current pension liability of British Waterways is; and whether it will be transferred to the Canal & River Trust.
Richard Benyon (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Natural Environment and Fisheries), Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Newbury, Conservative) The last triennial valuation of the British Waterways pension fund was carried out by the Scheme Actuary on 31 March 2010. The actuarial valuation of the British Waterways Pension Fund pension deficit was £65.6 million. No formal valuation has been prepared since March 2010, although estimated updates have been prepared by the Scheme Actuary for the pension fund trustees. The Government are negotiating a long-term funding agreement with the trustees of the Canal & River Trust (CRT). Those negotiations are considering a range of issues which could impact on funding to maintain the canal network, including future liabilities arising from CRT’s pension arrangements. The outcome of the negotiations will be announced before the Government lays the necessary order under the Public Bodies Act to transfer British Waterways’ functions to CRT.
17 January 2012
In the House of Commons - Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes, Conservative) To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate she has made of dredging works which will not have been completed at the proposed time of transfer of British Waterways’ canals and rivers to the Canal & River Trust.
Richard Benyon (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Natural Environment and Fisheries), Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Newbury, Conservative) Dredging is an operational matter for British Waterways (BW) and it applies a risk-based prioritisation to its maintenance expenditure. The Government require BW to operate and maintain waterways to standards that reflect use and prospects of use. BW estimates that the cost of clearing the current backlog of dredging would be approximately £40 million. BW has not set a time scale for dealing with the dredging backlog because it is subject to BW’s need to prioritise expenditure on its major infrastructure assets and therefore it is not possible to confirm which dredging works will remain outstanding when the charity is vested. However, BW prioritises dredging at locations that cause particular boating constraints. Once BW’s assets and functions are transferred to the Canal & River Trust, it will be a matter for the trust to prioritise expenditure on the operation and maintenance of the waterways.
19 January 2012
THE ALL PARTY PARLIAMENTARY WATERWAYS GROUP
COMMUNIQUE ON THE FUTURE OF THE INLAND WATERWAYS
The All Party Parliamentary Waterways Group held a hearing on 8 December to provide the Waterways Minister, Richard Benyon MP, with the opportunity to respond to the Group’s Memorandum – The Future of the Waterways.
This was published and submitted to the Government in July, focussing on appropriate governance and financing for the Canal & River Trust which is planned to come fully into being in April 2012, inheriting responsibility for British Waterways’ inland waterways network.
The Memorandum was prepared after two hearings into these issues in order to provide a Parliamentary response to Defra’s consultation A New Era for the Waterways on the Government’s proposals for moving inland waterways into a new charity in England & Wales. The hearing also gave the Minister and the charity’s Transition Trustees the opportunity to provide a broader report on progress to deliver a fully operational charity in 2012.
The hearing was chaired by the Rt Hon Alun Michael MP and attended by a number of MPs and representatives of a wide range of organisations which play important roles in relation to our canals and other waterways. This communiqué has been approved by the All Party Group as an accurate summary of the discussion and the Group also approves its publication and distribution to waterways stakeholders and other interested parties.
Government Statement Key issues covered in Richard Benyon’s statement, as a response to the All Party Group Memorandum, were Canal & River Trust governance and financing, and waterways classification.
Governance: the Minister reported that progress had been made on what both Government and the Trust’s Transition Trustees believed was the right model on governance for the Trust to begin life. There was now a target for 50% of the Council to be elected over time. On membership, the Trustees had decided that the charity should not have a membership for fund-raising purposes, believing that other means of raising funds and stimulating voluntary giving were more effective for fundraising than a formal membership.
Funding: Richard Benyon could not say what government funding was going to be for the Trust since negotiations had not yet concluded. But he acknowledged that the negotiations were complex, including the issues of adequate maintenance of the canal network, mitigation of possible future liabilities arising from environmental or other legislative requirements and the staff’s pension arrangements. He stressed that the Government was committed to a sustainable and prosperous future for the waterways, and that it wanted to give the Trust the best possible start that it could. He expected to be able to make announcements in the New Year.
Waterways classification: this had become an issue. The Inland Waterways Association had raised concerns about the proposed amendments to the system for classifying waterways in the Transport Act 1968 because it was concerned that the Trust would seek to reclassify “cruising” waterways to “remainder” waterways. He gave an assurance that any application from the Trust to reclassify a waterway would be subject to a full cost benefit analysis and wide consultation with those likely to be affected as required by the Transport Act. In addition, he was sure that the Trustees would consult the charity’s Council and the relevant Waterways Partnership before embarking on such a significant course of action that would impact on a large number of its users. These mechanisms would help to ensure a robust and transparent process on a re-classification of any of the charity’s waterways.
In answer to specific questions from Members of the All Party Group present, Richard Benyon added: • he did not want or expect to see closures of any waterways, as that would not be constructive. The Government wanted to ensure that in the medium term there was scope for a reduction in the percentage of assets that were in poor and very poor condition. He addedthat the Government wanted the existing network to be both maintained and enhanced. • on ownership, in response to the suggestion that part ownership of a charity under for example, co-operative arrangements, delivered local ownership and commitment, Richard Benyon commented that he could see that possibility, locally and as a part of natural evolution.
CRT Transition Trustees: Some Transition Trustees were present, including the chairman, Tony Hales and Lynne Berry who chairs the governance committee of the Shadow Board. The Chief Executive of British Waterways, Robin Evans, was also present.
The All Party Group invited them to comment. Tony Hales said that that the Trust would be reviewing it’s governance in 3 years and that would be the time to reflect on the suggestions made with regard to ownership. On finance, he said that commercial activity would be the most significant contributor, and that the Trustees were comfortable about the future prospects for this commercial activity. The Trustees were also confident about the forecasts for the contribution for voluntary income and donations, which were expected to reach £6- 8m after 10 years. There were also potential contributions to be made by other government departments, local government and bodies such as Transport for London and the Olympic Delivery Authority. It was a question of determining the benefits they receive from the network so that they recognised that a contribution was justified. However, he reiterated the view of the Trustees that the £39m per annum offered initially by central government was not enough. The finance package overall needed to be enough to secure the network’s assets in the long term and ensure that day to day maintenance was carried out together with network dredging; and to ensure that pensions were safeguarded. He recognised the duty of Trustees to be in a position to satisfy the Charity Commission that the Trust was sustainable. Lynne Berry reported on public benefit. It had been evaluated at around £500millon but that didn’t fully reflect issues such as the social return and the well being benefit etc. Trustees were currently developing the public benefit model to embrace these wider issues.
Specific issues raised were: • what mechanism there was to secure heritage with the new charity? The Heritage Lottery Fund needed to become engaged so that grant could be explored for heritage issues. There were serious challenges for the museum’s archives which were under pressure from both users and historians whose needs might be different. • had potential new income streams been identified for the Trust? • was the valuation of the British Waterways property portfolio [£450m] realistic? • what incentive was there for the Trust to change its governance in the future? The responses were as follows.
Heritage: there was a museums representative on the Council, who would report on developments for museums and visitor attractions. The archives were regarded as a serious issue. They represented a major cost and storage and accessibility of paper archives was a problem but no less so for electronic archives which were still a significant cost. The Trust would continue to aim to make the archives available and it was an issue that needed to be settled for the future. Income: at this stage the Trust’s long term commercial plans had to be subject to an element of confidentiality. But there was future potential for water cooling for buildings sited near the network, especially as many now had to make a 20% renewable energy contribution. In addition there were opportunities from micro power generation at weirs and locks.
Property Valuation: the property values were assessed annually according to the “Red Book” and this assessment is reviewed by Grant Thornton (the British Waterways auditors). It was regarded as a robust valuation. Trust Governance: it was thought that the volunteer-led Trust would lend itself open to future evolution as necessary. Close The hearing closed with an offer from Richard Benyon to return to the Group to give a further report when the financial negotiations were concluded. The offer was welcomed by the Group and it was thought that this future hearing was likely to take place early in the New Year. Alun Michael closed the proceedings commenting that it was not unheard of for charities to go wrong, volunteer led or otherwise. It would not be an easy transition. It was going to be very challenging and there was profound interest from MPs on all sides of the House, and there was general support for the proposed model. The transition would be scrutinised with great interest.
Environment Minister Richard Benyon, announced today.
An unprecedented £1 billion funding for a new charity paves the way for the launch of the new Canal & River Trust later this year – a new “national trust for the waterways” that will harness the support of thousands of supporters and volunteers to help look after the canals and rivers in England and Wales for the benefit of future generations.
This is a good deal for the taxpayer, the waterways and for the millions of people that enjoy them. Releasing the nation’s waterways from Government control gives more certainty than ever to their financial future. The Canal & River Trust’s charitable status will mean new opportunities for revenue through donations, charitable grants and legacies, increased borrowing powers, efficiencies and volunteering activity.
Environment Minister Richard Benyon said:
“The Canal & River Trust will be a national trust for the waterways, maintaining and restoring 2,000 miles of heritage sites, wildlife habitats and open spaces so that we can all enjoy them for generations to come.
“Bringing our waterways into the Big Society puts decision-making into the hands of the thousands of people who cherish the waterways near their homes. Our £1 billion investment will get this new charity off to the strongest start possible, and let local communities and volunteers shape the future of our world-famous waterways.”
Tony Hales, the chairman of the Trustees of the Canal & River Trust said:
”We congratulate the minister on this settlement which creates a bedrock on which to build the future prosperity of our precious waterways. In the 20th century the network was saved from destruction by committed waterway campaigners, volunteers and staff. In the last decade alone British Waterways has made an enormous contribution to securing the network’s future. In the 21st century they will be held in trust for the nation as a national treasure and a haven for people and wildlife.
“With greater certainty of funding than ever before, we now have the opportunity to attract new investment and new supporters and give a greater role to the millions of people who live alongside and on the waterways.”
In order to help the Canal & River Trust get off to the best possible start, Defra has committed a property endowment worth £460 million and funding of £800 million over the next 15 years to help put the nation’s historic network on a firm footing for the future. In addition the new Trust will give local communities and stakeholders a greater role in caring for their waterways.
The funding deal has the following components:
- Core grant of £39m per year (index linked to inflation from 2015/16 onwards)
- From 2015/16, an additional grant of 10m per year (reduced gradually over the last five years of the grant agreement, tied to three performance measures):
- satisfactory condition of principal assets
- satisfactory condition of towpaths
- satisfactory flood risk management measures
- A £25m one-off grant to be spread across the next few months, and a capped ‘last resort’ Government guarantee in relation to the historic public sector pension liability;
- The government has already announced that the £460m commercial property endowment used by British Waterways to fund the infrastructure network will be transferred to the CRT for the same purposes.
Subject to satisfactory conclusion of outstanding issues, the Government plans to lay the Transfer Order in Parliament in February. Subject to Parliament’s approval, we hope to see the new charity launched in June. Following scrutiny by Parliament, the new charity will be launched in June.
The inland waterways managed by the Environment Agency will transfer to the new waterways charity from 2015/16, subject to the next spending review and the agreement of the charity’s trustees.
Daniel Charles is appointed as the Trust's individual giving manager.
Link to boating business candidates.
Voting will be open from 8 February until 9 March.
Link to Council Election Results
Link to Update from the Trustees (pdf file)
Trustees ratified at a the first full Council Meeting
Tony Hales (Chairman BW and CRT) anounces that he will retire in March 2003 once the CRT is up and running.
28th June 2012
Transfer of Functions Order (to the Canal and River Trust) approved by Parliament.
(scroll down to Section 8 (3) & (4))
Its joint project with Google will enable people to find their local towpaths for the first time using the website Google Maps, with the maps being updated to highlight bridges, locks and tunnels on the network.
The partnership with the Co-operative Bank will enable people to support the trust through "everyday banking products".
A spokesman for the trust said the exact nature of the support was still to be finalised, but it is likely that people will be able to sign up to a credit card or similar product where a percentage of any spending goes to the trust.
The People’s Postcode Lottery expects to provide £1m to support conservation work on CRT land.
Tony Hales, chairman of the CRT, said the existence of three new partnerships before the formal launch of the organisation was "a huge vote of confidence in the Canal & River Trust" and highlighted the importance of its role.
The Canal & River Trust will be officially launched on 12th June 2012, most of the BW offices etc. will be shut on that day and will re-emerge as the Canal & River Trust on the 13th.
Further updates will be added as things develop.