CRT has today, 12 July 2012, held launch events in all the regions to mark the beginnings of a new era for the canals and rivers previously owned by British Waterways.
Each region held a local stakeholder event to mark the day, and CRT employees also had the opportunity to celibrate. DEFRA also hosted an event in London attended by the Environment Secretary, Rt Hon Caroline Spelman, and Waterways Minister Richard Benyon, and DEFRA and CRT officials. The events have been widely reported in the media.
NABO representatives attended many of the launch events.
NABO is supportive of the Trust, and has long felt that the Inland Waterways are much too important to be owned and controlled by Government. There are few things that come to mind that need to be said in its favour.
- The cash deal means that any increased licence or mooring fee money stays with the waterways and is not taken back by the Government, as has happened year on year in the past. The same applies to any funding from other sources such as sponsorship, grants and the like.
- This also applies to operational savings made by improved efficiency and volunteer activities. These all have a cash value that can be added to the funds available for maintenance. This is also essential for the moral of all staff and volunteers.
- The additional cash funding for this year can be set against the old BW pension liability (which will remain with CRT). This is good because it is cash that does not have to be found in future years from other income, and secures the important confidence of staff. We all need CRT staff to be happy and confident about the future.
- At last CRT can start taking money from visitors along the towpath as part of fund raising. It will be small at the beginning but it is really important. For too long boaters have complained that these visitors are not contributing. Now they can and NABO supports all the coercion needed to get them to put a hand in their pockets as “friends”, for special events or riding cycles or anything else.
- The Waterways Partnerships mean better local representation for boaters. It is said that these Partnerships have no powers, and it may well be true. But lack of powers never stopped boaters saying what they thought before, and influencing the outcomes. We have another opportunity and it is up to us to use it.
- At last the CRT can stand up to local authorities and other government authorities over costs, planning and many other issues. There is new freedom here.
It is not going to be easy, and cash will be tight. But bring it on!
The CRT have provided futher information for boaters and this can be read here.