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Sunday 18 September

Today's news from the web

  • Spall and his barge Matilda banned from Thames Festival thisislondon.co.uk

    Actor Timothy Spall is locked in a dispute with the organisers of the annual Thames Festival. The star, 54, and his wife Shane wanted to take their 52ft Dutch barge Princess Matilda to the event this weekend. But Mrs Spall accidentally registered the vessel online as a battleship....

  • Twenty six-tonne boat pulled down Regent's Canal bbc.co.uk

    A group of volunteers has tugged a 26-tonne canal boat from Bow to Islington in London to raise funds for charity. Sixteen people tugged the vessel for three miles down the Regent's Canal as part of the Victims Support Great Narrowboat Challenge. The volunteers, who all work for a gym company, took about two hours to complete the challenge....

  • Hotel Cipriani offers kayak trips of Venice canals ft.com

    Kayaking around the city [Venice] isn’t revolutionary – small groups have taken part in kayaking trips here for the past three years – but a new excursion launched this summer by the Cipriani Hotel, haunt of A-listers, oligarchs and modern-day grand tourists, gives the adventure a five-star polish....

Saturday 17 September

Today's news from the web

  • Greenwich tall ships spectacular planned for Dutch invasion greenwich.co.uk

    A spectacular flotilla of tall ships will arrive in Greenwich next year as part of Sail Royal Greenwich. The Dutch organisers unveiled their plans to paint the town orange yesterday at a press launch on board De Wylde Swan – the world’s largest two mast topsail schooner. As the tall ship set off from North Greenwich Pier, the team behind Sail Royal Greenwich – who were also involved in the staging of SAIL Amsterdam – put forward their vision for next summer, describing it as a chance to “get in touch with the Dutch.”...

  • Woman dies after falling from Chester City Walls chesterchronicle.co.uk

    A woman has plunged 60ft to her death from Chester City Walls on to the canal towpath. Emergency services were called to Northgate Street shortly after 11am on Friday after members of the public saw her fall from the walls close to the antiquarian bookshop. The woman, who is from Chester and believed to be in her 40s, was pronounced dead at the scene....

  • Bumpy start for speed humps as Regent's Canal towpath cyclists give them a miss islingtontribune.com

    Measures to slow down speeding cyclists on narrow towpaths along the Regent’s Canal in Islington were branded “virtually useless” by campaigners for safe walking this week. The speed humps installed by British Waterways do, however, have one unintended consequence: they present major obstacles for disabled people in wheelchairs or on mobility scooters....

  • Pocklington Canal restoration bid wins local backing yorkpress.co.uk

    Work to clear miles of overgrown canal near Pocklington and link it with the region’s historic waterways could begin next year. A study into restoring the abandoned section of Pocklington Canal, between Canal Head and Melbourne, has been given overwhelming support by local people. Heritage expert Marion Blockley has been asked to complete the report by British Waterways and the Leader Waterways Partnership....

Friday 16 September

IWA briefing for politicians highlights ‘£40m funding gap’

The Inland Waterways Association has issued a briefing paper for MPs and local politicians, identifying a massive £40 million ‘gap’ in funding the waterways.  The paper is a result of the public consultation on the Government’s plans to move the waterways to a new waterways charity (NWC), and comes as a six-week further consultation on way in which the move takes place.

IWA says that to make the move to a charity a success, it is critical that the NWC is properly funded from the start, and makes several practical suggestions on how to fill the gap.

The briefing paper calls Defra’s plans ‘a fragile entity’, and identifies five key issues it believes the government should fund, namely:

• Taking on the past service pension liabilities of British Waterways.

• Provide a ‘transition fund’ to cover the costs for a successful  launch of the Charity and the costs of promoting local involvement.

• Index-linking the funding.

• Provide certainty of funding beyond the ten years initially proposed.

• Funding the cost of bridge repairs, which has risen exponentially.  This is because much of BW’s existing property comprises bridges and tunnels over 200 years old, most of them at least Grade II listed, so BW is compelled to maintain them to heritage standards.

Clive Henderson, IWA National Chairman, said: “The All-Party Parliamentary Waterways Group has supported the IWA’s concerns over insufficient funding, the consensus being that we are at least £40 million a year short. We are pleased that there now seems to be an acknowledgement from Government that this is still open for negotiation with the new trustees.”

Andrew Denny  | 5.43pm

Rimmer gets 2 1/2 years

Ed Rimmer of Challenger Syndicateships was sentenced to 2 1/2 years (30 months) at Worcester Crown Court Friday 9th September, for 18 counts of fraud, amounting to £536,000. The judge described the crimes as “a planned and sophisticated form of fraud over a considerable time”.

The offences took place between 2003 and 2008, and were carried out by Challenger Syndicateships, and Challenger Syndicateships Ltd, both companies owned by Rimmer and his late wife Gill. They included misappropriation of funds from shared ownership syndicates, and multiple selling of sponsored narrowboats to more than one party, with amounts ranging from £20,000 to £95,000.

The judge described the offences as an abuse of the confidence and trust people had placed in Rimmer, a former member of the British Marine Federation's National Boat Shows board, with many of the victims knowing him for many years, and several of them being retired, with the lost funds representing a major portion of their income. As a result of their losses some had had to re-mortgage their houses, and had suffered depression and devastation.

The original claims from over 20 parties after the companies went into administration in 2008 amounted to more than £1.5m, but the Crown Prosecution Service decided to prosecute on the basis of only the proportion of them necessary to achieve a custodial sentence, with another 17 charges brought against Rimmer left to lie on file.

The Crown will also apply for a Confiscation Order under the Proceeds of Crime Act, which will enable them to pursue any assets or funds that Rimmer may acquire or that may be discovered in the future.

The failure of Challenger followed the earlier failure of Rimmer’s previous company, Black Prince Narrowboats, which went into administration in 1987, subsequently being successfully relaunched and renamed under new management.

Andrew Denny  | 1.53pm

Today's news from the web

  • Fresh hopes for a Diglis Basin crossing worcesternews.co.uk

    There are still faint hopes that a new footbridge can be built over Diglis Basin, Worcester, to link homes and businesses. Ever since work started on regenerating the Diglis area there have been plans to install a new bridge over Lock Two near to the point where the Worcester-Birming-ham canal joins the river Severn. Work on the bridge has never really got off the ground, but talks are now being arranged. ...

  • New River Trent bridge completes missing link waterscape.com

    The new replacement for the long-closed Long Horse Bridge near Shardlow was craned into position over the River Trent on 15th September, re-establishing the footpath link to Sawley that was lost when the old bridge, dating from the 1930s, was demolished in 2003 after it fell into disrepair. When opened later this year the new £1.4m single-span bridge will give a full public bridleway, allowing access across the River Trent for walkers, cyclists and horses. A new greenway linking the bridge with Shardlow is also being constructed, crossing open land and following the Trent & Mersey Canal. Over a mile of new hedgerow is also being planted. Derbyshire County Council contributed £213,000 and raised a further £303,000 towards the cost of the project through grants from other organisations. Leicestershire County Council also contributed £15,000, with the balance coming from British Waterways. ...

  • Bumpy reception for Regent's Canal speed humps islingtontribune.com

    Measures to slow down speeding cyclists on narrow towpaths along the Regent’s Canal in Islington were branded “virtually useless” by campaigners for safe walking this week....

  • River Weaver route's £120,000 upgrade northwichguardian.co.uk

    Cyclists and walkers will be able to navigate the River Weaver more fully thanks to a £120,000 upgrade. A 2km mud track between Vale Royal Locks and Newbridge has been transformed into a multi-user path and cycleway. The 2m-wide path, which is suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs, links directly into the Weaver Parkway, in Winsford....

Tuesday 13 September

Defra announces charity consultation results

Defra has published the summary of responses to its consultation about transferring the waterways from public ownership to the new waterways charity, called ‘A new era for the waterways’.

The three-month consultation, which ended on 30th June, was to take into account the public’s views on how the new charity should manage the English and Welsh waterways, and particularly in gaining new ideas on how to secure their financial stability in the wake of all the funding cutback of the last few years.

Defra said over 350 responses were received on the consultation, from individuals, charities and the main associations connected with the waterways.  

Many of the familiar demands by waterways users were addressed, including a key one that canal towpaths would be opened up as rights of way (currently towpaths are only available for public use at ‘the discretion of’ BW. )

A clear majority of replies favoured the merger of EA navigations into the new charity, and Defra said this is now likely to happen, possibly by 2014 rather than the original target of 2015, “subject to affordability and the agreement of the NWC Trustees at that time”.

The original consultation proposed a series of region-sized ‘Local Partnerships’, and while the proposal is likely to go ahead,  there was criticism that their name belied their large size and that there should be more ‘localism’ in the partnerships.   Defra has agreed, and is renaming them ‘Waterways Partnerships’, with an instruction that they should develop ‘localism strategies’ that allow a greater involvement from local communities.  

The current plan is for 13 Partnerships.  Eleven would be based on waterway management boundaries, one for museums and one ‘All-Wales Partnership’. But the proposal should not prevent the Partnerships from evolving into the future.

The shape of the new charity Council was also unveiled.  This will initially consist of 35 members.  Boaters will be pleased that five of these will come from their ranks, and others taken from various other interests – including two from boating businesses and one from employees of the charity.  Four of them will come from the various other interests, such as cyclists, anglers, ramblers, etc.   These interests will comprise half the Council, and they will elect their members, while the other half will be appointed, including heritage and environmental appointees, and one each from the 13 Waterways Partnerships.

The name of the new charity is still under discussion. “The Government and Trustees recognise that the name of the charity must accurately represent its scope”, said the report.

“Furthermore, in addition to the word ‘waterways’  (well understood by enthusiasts), consideration also needs to be given to words more familiar to  the wider public (including ‘canal’ and ‘river’) if the name is to have the widest possible appeal.  

“It is recognised that the Welsh name for the charity needs to be one that resonates in that language and is not necessarily a straightforward translation of the English name.”

The results of the consultation can be downloaded on www.defra.gov.uk/consult/files/110912-waterways-summary-responses.pdf

As it published the report, Defra also launched another six-week consultation about the proposed ‘Transfer Order’.  This will run until 24th October, and sets out the legal framework for transfer of the waterways and associated powers and responsibilities from BW to the new charity.

Details of this supplementary consultation can be seen on www.defra.gov.uk/consult/2011/09/12/waterways-1109/ 

Andrew Denny  | 2.45pm

Today's news from the web

  • The green mile: Water fern covers Lancaster Canal posing threat to children and wildlife dailymail.co.uk

    It may look like a perfectly manicured lawn. But actually this is a stretch of Lancaster Canal. The sea of green is the result of rampant water fern, which has spread rapidly along a mile-long stretch of the 200-year-old waterway....

  • Houseboats will not help solve the housing problem dailymail.co.uk

    Even if barges were parked nose-to-tail along Britain's 1,864 miles of navigable waterways, it would only provide 150,000 homes - three-fifths of the number of new homes that the Department of Communities and Local Government previously estimated are needed every year. ...

  • River Avon safety works near completion eveshamobserver.co.uk

    A two-year project to make the River Avon safer is nearing completion. Brand new barriers have been installed at the top of five of the river's weirs, including Evesham, to make them less dangerous for boaters. Improved signs and portage for canoeists has also been planned as part of the project - a partnership between The Environment Agency and The Avon Navigation Trust. ...

Monday 12 September

Today's news from the web

  • Kirkintilloch canal festival gets 20,000 visitors kirkintilloch-herald.co.uk

    Around 20,000 people enjoyed an array of activities – showcasing the area’s leisure, culture and musical heritage - at this year's Kirkintilloch Canal Festival. This year the festival was expanded over a week to tie in with celebrations marking the 800th anniversary of Kirkintilloch becoming a Burgh of Barony. Now in its 11th year, the popular festival has grown to be one of the highlights in the town’s events calendar....

Friday 9 September

Today's news from the web

  • 25th Angel Canal Festival honours Crystal Hale with plaque islingtontribune.com

    Hundreds of people flocked to the 25th Angel Canal Festival on Sunday – despite the typical summer weather conditions of pouring rain – to eat world cuisine from the food stalls, watch a Punch and Judy show and play in puddles. The day honoured the festival’s founder Crystal Hale with a green Islington People’s Plaque – which celebrate notable residents of the borough and are voted for by the public. Ms Hale’s plaque was unveiled by her daughter Rebecca Hale on the wall of Hanover School, looking south down the canal basin, a view she loved....

  • Falkirk Wheel masterplan rebranded as ‘Portdownie’ thedrum.co.uk

    A planned 58-acre mixed use development neighbouring the Falkirk Wheel will henceforth be known as ‘Portdownie’ following a rebranding exercise conducted by Whitespace. Development partners British Waterways and Falkirk Council selected the brand to reflect the historic name by which the canal basin is known....

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