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Dispute about role of the new Canal & River Trust council

A former legal adviser to the IWA caused a stir when he pointed out that the newly elected Council of the Canal & River Trust would have no legal powers.

John Burrell, a former solicitor and holder of the IWA’s Cyril Styring award for his legal advice to the association, said he had studied the Articles of Association carefully. "The statement on Waterscape that ‘The Council will have the power to appoint or dismiss the Trustees’ is wrong", he argued. "There are only two members of the Canal & River Trust – British Waterways Board and the Secretary of State (DEFRA).

"The Articles of Association contain no references to a council or trustee. The persons or organisations elected or appointed to the council will only become members of the Company if they apply for membership of the Company, and the Directors approve their membership. It is only such persons or organisations that have so become members of the Company that will be able to take part in resolutions of members to appoint or dismiss Directors."

John Dowell, the main transition trustee, gave us this statement:

"The Trust was deliberately set up using temporary Articles, because the public Consultation had not closed nor had the funding deal been agreed. An advisory committee, set up by Defra, identified the eight initial trustees. The Trust had to start somewhere!

"The Articles will be revised before the waterways are transferred, including provision for the Council to take on the role of appointing/dismissing Trustees (including the existing ones). Far from the government ‘getting the waterways off its books’ we will be outside old regime of grant cuts and variable objectives and with Government paying known sums for 15 years. 

"I know of Mr Burrell’s legal background. May I invite him to think of volunteering to help CRT?"

Monday 12 March  | Andrew Denny  | 10.01am, Monday 12 March 2012

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