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Wednesday 16 February

Today's news from the web

  • 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....

Friday 11 February

Today's news from the web

  • Dan O’Neill: Lost canal that’s only now missed walesonline.co.uk

    Sounded like an intriguing idea peddled last month by Coun Neil McEvoy: open up the Glamorganshire Canal again and give our town a Little Venice. As if we haven’t got enough smells and floods already. But I thought – stable door, bolted horse. Because we had our chance to keep what its creators called the Great Ditch. We blew it. And the end came 60 years ago when the sand dredger Catherine Ethel crashed into the inner lock gate and out rushed the waters as though a gigantic plug had been pulled. The Glamorganshire Canal emptied for ever....

  • The man who sold the sky - on a Thames boat trip ca.reuters.com

    One warm July evening three years ago, John Leahy set off along London's river Thames in an electric punt. With Leahy, a sharp and energetic New Yorker who has been Airbus sales chief since 1994, were the company's Middle East president Habib Fekih and Tim Clark, president of Emirates Airlines, one of the fastest-growing airlines in the world. Dubai-based Emirates was the largest customer for Airbus's A380 superjumbo but Leahy wanted Clark to confirm his support for the A350, Airbus's bid to compete with Boeing's hot-selling 787 Dreamliner. The three men inched their boat along a secluded stretch of the river six miles west of Windsor Castle. There were others out enjoying the last few hours of sun. As the evening wore on, the punt became more difficult to steer and the men narrowly avoided a fracas with members of the local rowing club. Spirits undimmed, they landed and made their way to the Fat Duck, a restaurant with three Michelin stars whose menu includes such dishes as snail porridge and salmon poached in a liquorice gel. Over dinner Leahy and Clark finally agreed a deal: a contract for dozens of jets worth $15 billion. ...

Thursday 10 February

Today's news from the web

  • ITV shows vintage 1973 news report of K&A Canal Trust itv.com

    We've pulled out a programme on the Kennet and Avon Canal from our 1973 archives to mark the 200th Birthday of the Caen Hill locks. They're described as one of the wonders of the British canal system and today a new set of lock gates were put in place. ...

Tuesday 8 February

Today's news from the web

  • Towpath repairs ready after four-year project oxfordmail.co.uk

    Walkers can put their best feet forward again now a four-year project to repair the Thames towpath through Oxford has finished. Almost £2m has been spent improving access along three miles of the towpath. Large cracks appeared in the path’s surface and parts of the bank were subsiding into the river, with particular problems at Grandpont and south of Iffley Lock. ... Repair and reconstruction work took place on stretches including the Fiddlers Island and Medley Island sections, near Port Meadow, where Wolvercote teenager Ben Halsey-Jones fell into the river and died in January 2007....

Monday 7 February

Today's news from the web

  • David Walliams to swim 200-mile Thames in September google.com

    Come Fly With Me star David Walliams is to swim around 200 miles - along the length of the River Thames. The funnyman has previously swum across the English Channel and cycled the length of Britain for charity challenges. He announced that his next endurance test will see him following the course of the river from its source in the Cotswolds. Walliams's challenge is to be staged for Sport Relief and will begin in September. ...

Friday 4 February

Today's news from the web

  • K&A Canal restoration legend dies kacanaltimes.blogspot.com

    Bryan House, known to all as Grumpy, died on January 8th at the Royal United Hospital in Bath aged 71 and his funeral took place at Semington Crematorium on Tuesday 21st of January. Bryan was active from the very early days of the restoration of the Kennet & Avon Canal and his ingenuity in finding novel solutions to practical problems as well as his ability to 'aquire' the means to implement them, along with his bloody minded doggedness, was legendary....

Thursday 3 February

Today's news from the web

  • Britain's best views: Dudley canal tunnels guardian.co.uk

    Great views are normally linked to great heights. The Earth's curve requires a decent perch to take in far horizons, or else a towering landscape which you can see from miles away. This panorama breaks those rules and in a thoroughgoing manner. It lies 76 metres below the streets of Dudley in Britain's Black Country. Most drivers rushing past on the M5 motorway have no idea that it is there. Duddle-eye! Not often a British destination of choice. Who would go there without being paid? ...

Wednesday 2 February

Today's news from the web

  • Leeds Liverpool Canal transformed into five star tourist hotspot yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk

    The historic canal, built to support the textile and coal-mining industries back in the 1700s, is today home to the beautiful Lady Teal- a canal boat hotel put together by Nick Mead and Gina Alexander. The hotel, which was awarded prestigious five star status by tourism supremos Visit England, is thought to be the only hotel boat of its kind operating in the region. Offering three or four night cruises along the canal and based at Clarence Dock, the boat proved a massive hit with tourists, even drawing visitors from America keen to see what Yorkshire has to offer....

  • Work starts on £43m Helix visitor attraction bbc.co.uk

    Work to transform a 300-hectare site of unused land between Falkirk and Grangemouth into an international visitor attraction is set to begin. The £43m Helix project includes two huge horse head sculptures and a waterway linking Grangemouth into the Scottish canal network. Work will start on the canal hub and canal extension, and the fabrication of the 30m (98ft) "kelpie" sculptures....

  • Canal chiefs float illuminating idea news.scotsman.com

    Solar lighting is being looked at to illuminate much of Edinburgh's ten miles of canals under a new plan to encourage people to walk, run and cycle on the banks of the Union Canal after dark. British Waterways Scotland, the trust responsible for managing all of Scotland's 137-mile canal network, is in talks with the city council about installing solar lights along the canal between Viewforth bridge, near Edinburgh Quay, and the City Bypass at Wester Hailes. The talks are part of the wider project to breathe new life into the city's canal network....

Tuesday 1 February

Today's news from the web

  • Nature Studies by Michael McCarthy: Of all our conservation failures, this is the saddest - Nature Studies, Nature - The independent.co.uk

    After more than 30 years of trying, and a colossal amount of thinking, effort, and expense, the current custodians of the dream, the Environment Agency, has more or less accepted that it is not going to be realised, and this year's stocking of young fish in the river – in the hope that they might go down to the sea and then return as adults, to breed – will be the last. The salmon have not come back. A native breeding population has not been established, and only a tiny handful of adult fish are now turning up in the river each summer. The project, which many people set their hearts on, has effectively failed....

Monday 31 January

Today's news from the web

  • 'Thames whale' skeleton on display at Natural History Museum nhm.ac.uk

    On 19 January 2006, a 6-metre-long female whale swam up the Thames. From the moment the whale was spotted, she captured the public's imagination. Sadly, despite human efforts, the northern bottlenose whale died towards the end of a rescue attempt, under the gaze of the world’s media. In this temporary exhibition you can get up close to the incredible skeleton and hear the whale's story, from its origins and very public death to what happened next and what we can learn from it. ...

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