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Tuesday 22 February

Today's news from the web

  • Government responds to 'Protect Our Canals' petition with 10-year plan hmg.gov.uk

    The government has finally replied to the 'Protect Our Canals' petition on the No.10 e-petition website of over a year ago, with a statement issued today. 

    The new 'charitable model' for British Waterways was announced last October, with full transition to the new charitable organisation by April 2012, with a longer term guaranteed funding model.  Today's statement confirms not only the transfer of BW's existing property portfolio, but an annual fixed grant giving support at the preannounced 2014/15 level (£39 million) through to 2022/23 - a much longer timescale than previously hinted. 

    This long-term fixed commitment is something BW has long requested, to allow it to plan more comprehensively for the future.    

    The official statement concludes: 

    "The Government will give the new charity the best start it can afford, with the transfer of the property portfolio and a long term contract.  As a first step, the Government has provided a new long term commitment to a grant allocation at the 2014/15 level (£39m) to 2022/23 inclusive (covering the next two Spending Review periods) that will enable the development of a funding plan which gives confidence to the incoming Trustees of the new charity.  The amount and length of the contract will be subject to negotiation with the Trustees, who will be appointed this April."


  • Canal towpath north of Audlem to close for a month crewechronicle.co.uk

    Ore than half a kilometre of canal towpath will be closed off near Audlem for a month for resurfacing work. Around 600m of the towpath from Bridge 80 southwards towards the village will be shut from Monday, February 28 as improvements are made to provide better access to Audlem. The stretch has become notorious for its muddiness which becomes almost impassable after heavy rainfall....

  • Volunteers clean up the River Thames in Isle of Dogs and uncover finds including a cannonball eastlondonadvertiser.co.uk

    Volunteers put on their wellies and unconcerned about the muck, got down to the edge of the River Thames in the Isle of Dogs today and yesterday to help in a river clean-up. Youngsters join in the deep clean in the River Thames near the Poplar slipway Taking advantage of the lowest tide this year to join in the deep clean organised by waterways charity Thames 21, they uncovered a cannon ball, an Indian passport, a giant tyre and a windlass, a mechanism used to winch ropes on sailing boats, thought to be over 100 years old. Around 100 volunteers over both days also got on with the task of clearing the foreshore of plastic bags which collect in the mud on the river bend and are harmful to birds and fish when they break down and are eaten. The charity says the Isle of Dogs is one of the worst affected areas for plastic bag litter in London and estimates that volunteers have removed 250,000 bags from this area since 2001....

  • Ark Royal could have new future... as a floating helipad on the Thames dailymail.co.uk

    Ark Royal could be saved from the scrapheap under plans to turn it into a heliport. The Royal Navy aircraft carrier, axed in last October’s defence cuts and due to be decommissioned next month, could be based on the Thames by May 2012. The 693ft vessel would be manned by around 150 former servicemen, for whom it would be both a home and a job, and would cater for City workers, police helicopters and London’s air ambulance. ...

Monday 21 February

Today's news from the web

  • New Moorings management plan for the River Lee waterscape.com

    British Waterways is calling upon local authorities, residents, boaters and all who use the River Lee and River Stort Navigations and the Hertford Union Canal to comment on its proposals to introduce a new moorings management plan for the area. The plan has been drafted in response to the increased number of boats mooring in the area – an increase of nearly 40 per cent over the past four years....

  • Melksham, Chippenham and Calne dig deep for Wiltshire canal trust wiltshiretimes.co.uk

    The Big Society idea may be causing controversy but the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust had no problems attracting volunteers last year. Volunteers provided the equivalent of almost £81,500 of free labour in 2010, a new record and up from nearly £74,000 in 2009. ...

Sunday 20 February

Today's news from the web

  • Waterways offer winter wonderland walks mirror.co.uk

    Stretch your legs and take in some classic beauty this half term with a healthy walk along your local canal or river. A good stroll could be just the thing to leave the whole family feeling energised and invigorated – with the added bonus that there’s probably a welcoming pub somewhere on the route. Waterscape.com, British Waterways’s leisure website, has published a selection of winter walks that can each be done in two hours or less so you won’t spend too long out if it’s chilly, and they all feature a pub so you can warm up and have some well-deserved refreshments. ...

Friday 18 February

Today's news from the web

  • Boaters prosecuted for keeping unregistered crafts on Cambridgeshire waterways cambstimes.co.uk

    Boaters from across the region have been prosecuted for keeping their crafts on waterways without registering them with the Environment Agency. The boaters received fines ranging from £175 to £350 and were each ordered to pay court costs of £115. Two boat owners were caught on the River Nene without a valid registration certificate. William Hamill, of Eskdale Avenue, Corby, Northamptonshire, and Ken Lewis, of High Street, Thurlby, Bourne, were both fined £175. Another three boaters were caught on the River Great Ouse and had their cases heard at Huntingdon Magistrates’ Court on 26 January 2011....

  • Bingley landmarks could be used in film to promote tourism thetelegraphandargus.co.uk

    The rich history of the famous Five Rise and Three Rise locks in Bingley could soon be chronicled in an animated film for use in schools. Heritage consultant Marion Blockley and British Waterways are spearheading a study of the Grade I and II listed structures on the Leeds Liverpool Canal at Bingley, to promote them as an attraction for tourists and historians. As part of the project, Mrs Blockley has been in discussions with the National Media Museum over plans to create the animation to show school pupils what life on the canal was like in the past....

Wednesday 16 February

Today's news from the web

  • National Waterways Museum receives £10,000 donation from Cadbury ellesmereportpioneer.co.uk

    Cadbury has given a £10,000 donation to Ellesmere Port’s National Waterways Museum toward restoring canal narrowboat Mendip. Once the work is finished the boat will make the trip through the canal network back to the Bournville headquarters of the chocolate maker....

  • New £70,000 canal bridge is set to be a piece of art theboltonnews.co.uk

    A new bridge designed to be both “functional” and “a piece of art” could be built in Little Lever. [Over the Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal] Bolton At Home’s Housing Percent For Art team has been working to create a community art project in the town. Prestigious public artist Liam Curtin, who who responsible for the Northern Quarter Public Art Scheme in Manchester and created the 50ft Blackpool High Tide Organ in the seaside resort, has been commissioned for the project. He hopes to create a new bridge over the canal to link Little Lever and Moses Gate Country Park. Although he has not yet finalised a design, the bridge is likely to be made of English oak and be three metres high....

  • Buckingham Canal will re-open, pledge campaigners mix96.co.uk

    We're told parts of Buckingham's canal could re-open early next year, and in 15 years the link between the town and the Grand Union lock at Cosgrove restored. That's according to The Buckingham Canal Society. It closed down in the 60's and a team of volunteers are currently creating large lakes along the route and aim to eventually join them all up. Meanwhile Aylesbury Vale District Council has pledged its full support for the restoration of the disused Buckingham Canal, which closed down in the 1960s....

  • Bridge clean-up is floored by health and safety expressandstar.com

    Village volunteers have been banned from cleaning graffiti from vandalised [Staffs & Worcs] canal bridges in South Staffordshire because of health and safety red tape. Members of Wombourne’s Best Kept Village committee have been ordered to take specialist training before they are allowed to scrub off spray paint. The bridges, near Ounsdale Road and Giggetty Lane, have been targeted by vandals....

  • Arson attack on ex-lover's boat in Hertfordshire denied bbc.co.uk

    A woman poured petrol over her ex-lover's narrowboat on the Grand Union Canal and set it alight as he slept inside, a jury has heard. The prosecution at St Albans Crown Court claims Kathleen Smith carried out the attack because she was angry Jeremy Brewer had finished with her. Mr Brewer told the jury he had to be rescued by fire crews in January 2010. Miss Smith, of Beechfield Road, Hemel Hempstead, denies arson with intent to endanger life....

  • Man froze to death in Rugby canal after drunken night out coventrytelegraph.net

    A man froze to death in a Rugby canal after falling through the ice at the end of a boozy night out. Roberto Da Silva plunged into the Oxford Canal in Rugby in December when the ice cracked beneath him as he walked home. The 32-year-old swam to the edge but could not climb up the muddy bank as temperatures plummeted below zero in blizzard conditions. His partly-submerged body was found by two teenagers the next morning. ...

Tuesday 15 February

BW cuts costs, warns of redundancies

British Waterways today announced a raft of new cost-cutting measures to meet its reduced circumstances.  These include a freeze on pay and most recruitment, reducing its back office payroll bill by £3.5million, including up to 60 redundancies, consolidating offices and outsourcing even more activities.

BW says the announcement doesn’t affect the number of staff working ‘on the bank’ but is looking at more operational efficiencies, including further outsourcing of vegetation works and a review of staff allowances. The regional structure it put in place in 2009 remains unchanged.

Funding for canal and river maintenance will be maintained “as a priority”; however spending on major repairs will reduce for the next three years.  From £22.6m on major works in the current year, it will fall to £15.5m in 2011/12 and £10.2m in 2012/13, hopefully rising again in 2013/14 to £17.7m.

The redundancies are hoped to come with voluntary redundancy where possible, and reduced working hours from other affected staff to minimise the need for compulsory redundancies.

In Scotland BW said it hoped to avoid compulsory redundancies if possible, but would consider voluntary redundancy in management and office-based teams, and accommodating voluntary flexible and reduced working.

BW’s chief executive Robin Evans said: “We knew the next three years were going to be difficult and, in preparation, we have already done a lot to control our costs. However the impact of the financial climate on our commercial income, the pressures on our pension scheme, and now a cut in our public funding mean that we have to reconsider our plans. This means making the difficult decision to reduce numbers of staff and spend less on major waterway repairs.

Robin Evans ended with a note of confidence.  He said that while BW, like the rest of the public sector, faced “a very challenging funding climate”, it was in a stronger position than many other public bodies.

“The new waterway charity will be able to look forward to a guaranteed long-term contract from government, new income streams from voluntary sources and tax relief, and increased commercial income when the property market recovers.”  

Andrew Denny  | 2.13pm

Today's news from the web

  • NarrowBoat Magazine available in WH Smith jhalfie.blogspot.com

    The magazine is splendidly glossy, with a wonderful smell, and is full of authoritative articles on historical aspects of the waterways. You won't find a cruising guide to a popular canal, nor a write-up of the latest 150 grands-worth of luxury narrowboat. Neither - and this is the best thing - will you find much advertising. Indeed, in the last issue of 48 pages within the cover, there are just three pages of adverts, and even these are just promoting subscription deals or books connected with the magazine. It's stuffed full of fabulous photos and compelling copy. (Captain Ahab, you'd love it.) ...

  • Crowds flock to see work on the K&A Canal's million pound makeover kacanaltimes.blogspot.com

    More than 200 visitors went to the British Waterways 'winters works' open day at Caen Hill in Devizes yesterday and they were able to watch a lock gate being craned into position. Many took a guided walk down the flight to Lower Foxhangers where there was a coach on hand to take them back Draining the canal on the Caen Hill Flight has brought to light serious stability problems with the banks which BW's contractors are tackling and Saturday's visitors were able to see just how much work is involved in keeping the world famous flight of locks in good condition. ...

Monday 14 February

Today's news from the web

  • Liverpool Boat Show cancelled by organisers bbc.co.uk

    A boat show which was expected to attract thousands of visitors to Liverpool has been cancelled. The Liverpool Boat Show was due to take place on the Mersey waterfront for 10 days from 29 April. Organisers Marine Industry Events (MIE) said it had been forced to cancel the show due to the economic climate and poor take-up of exhibitors. Rob Mackenzie, managing director of MIE, said it had cancelled the show to "protect the integrity of what we know to be the enormous long-term potential for a major boat show in Liverpool". ...

  • Why flow rates have killed River Thames salmon gofishing.co.uk

    The lack of freshwater flow on the tidal river would mean any salmon, except at times of flood, would be trapped there swimming back and forwards with the tide. I used to see salmon in the Thames in the 1980s, several on some days. There were one or two anglers fishing for them in the weirs at Sunbury and Molesey – and they’d catch a couple each year. I’ve not seen one for more than 20 years and haven’t heard of one in almost as long. Thanks, EA, for wasting all our money for all that time....

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