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24 March 2010: Independence Day

It's official - Britain's canals are to leave Government control after 62 years.

The 2010 Budget, delivered today, announced that British Waterways will be ‘mutualised' - probably as a charitable trust. The decision confirms BW's ambitions to join the third sector, first announced in May 2009, and promoted in Waterways World since the year before. The move is often described as ‘a National Trust for the waterways'.

The Treasury announcement states: “Government has concluded that it would be desirable to mutualise British Waterways in England and Wales, giving the waterways' users and the communities that live alongside a greater involvement in how they are managed.”

It agrees with BW that the “favoured option” is a charitable trust, which would hold the waterways on a long lease from Government, and manage their operation. The English and Welsh waterways would be included, but Scotland's waterways will be considered separately, and could remain under Edinburgh's control.

The exact shape of this trust, however, is not yet decided. The Government wants a structure in which “all users, local communities and other stakeholders [can] hold the new body to account”. It also says the structure must protect “waterway assets and the public benefits they bring, now and in the future”.

Exciting news - and though the road certainly won't be trouble-free on the way to a waterways charity, this could be just what the canals and rivers need. We'll have more details in May's WW.

Wednesday 24 March  | Richard Fairhurst  | 3.22pm, Wednesday 24 March 2010

Comments

If the second paragraph is insisted upon then it would be good but did i not read that the BW board did not want boaters etc involved on the board?

iain smith  | 6.46PM, Wednesday 24 March

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