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Wednesday 9 December

Today's news from the web

  • Crime-busting project on the River Thames visitthames.co.uk

    Surrey Police have officially launched ‘Project Kraken’, a national initiative designed to raise awareness among river communities about the threat of terrorism and other criminal activity on rivers in the county. ...

Monday 7 December

British Waterways property - not quite a decision

News from the Government has been trickling out all morning, and finally, we have a decision on British Waterways - well, almost.

"The Government recognises that there may be benefits in considering alternative structures for BW’s business as a whole, including its property portfolio. We will therefore consider alternative models for the business as a whole, such as mutual or third sector structures. As part of any such future structure for BW, therefore, there may be opportunities for the private sector to invest in the portfolio."

So: no property sell-off yet - but the prospect of a partial one in the future, or more emphasis on "joint ventures", perhaps. "Opportunities for the private sector to invest" is awfully vague, but sounds very much like the sort of thing BW has been doing for several years with ventures such as Isis, H2O Urban, and so on.

The statement goes on to say:

"Under any scenario, ensuring the continued maintenance and protection of the waterways will continue to be an important objective for the Government."

...which is a bit 'motherhood and apple pie', but is at least a promise that can be held up in the future.

Equally interesting is that this is the first official endorsement of BW's '2020' strategy, which envisages becoing a trust or other 'third sector' organisation. More details are expected in a forthcoming Government paper called Waterways for Everyone.

You can read the Government document here. The BW bit starts on page 5.

Separately, Gordon Brown criticised public sector bodies who pay their staff more than £200,000 - which, of course, famously includes British Waterways, whose accounts show chief executive Robin Evans receiving significantly more. "It cannot be right," he said, and promised new curbs. (Original speech here - it's about three-quarters of the way down.)

Update: British Waterways itself is saying the Government 'decision' backs its approach. "The new approach... confirms and builds on the conclusions of a previous Treasury report in April 2009 which concluded there was no financial or economic case to sell off the property assets and a sale of the property endowment would not achieve best public value." Tony Hales, BW's chairman, says: "We are pleased that the Government wishes to explore with us the benefits of a third sector approach to the waterways." (BW press release.)

Richard Fairhurst  | 11.01am | add a comment

Friday 4 December

British Waterways decision - first details?

The Guardian is reporting that the Government's grand sell-off, expected on Monday, will declare that British Waterways will become "a mutual".

At first glance this appears to be early approval for a scheme such as BW's '2020 Vision', which would see greater involvement of supporters and volunteers in the running of BW.

But there is no word as yet as to whether BW's investment property will be retained, or whether this is to be sold in advance. Around £16bn of Government assets are to be sold. The petition against the rumoured sell-off has now exceeded 17,000 signatures and is expected to become the 10th most popular petition on the Downing Street site imminently.

An interesting parallel is provided by the Ordnance Survey - another public service company which, like BW, has long been criticised by its customers for its aggressive commercial behaviour. The Government announced last month that medium-scale OS map data (of the sort you see on a paper map) would become free of copyright, which users have long been requesting. But the lucrative part, the detailed survey data used by utility companies and planning departments, remains commercial - and will form part of the privatisation announced on Monday. Which way will BW fall?

(Link to the Guardian report.)

Richard Fairhurst  | 8.38pm | add a comment

Thursday 3 December

Today's news from the web

  • Toll bridge bought for over £1m news.bbc.co.uk

    Swinford Toll Bridge over the River Thames has sold for £1.08m at auction....

  • Peak Forest Canal towpath refurbished waterscape.com

    A major refurbishment of towpath between New Mills and Whaley Bridge on the Peak Forest Canal is now complete, enabling local people and visitors to access the canal more easily. ...

  • Fire boat moving from Marlow to Beaconsfield thisislocallondon.co.uk

    Fire bosses have been questioned for moving a rescue boat from Marlow - to the altogether more landlocked station at Beaconsfield. ...

  • Protest over canal bridge plans news.bbc.co.uk

    Campaigners are petitioning government transport ministers to raise a Nottinghamshire canal bridge so it does not block boats' access in future. ...

  • Appeal chairman says Canal Basin is best location for Freddie Trueman thetelegraphandargus.co.uk

    A statue of cricket legend Freddie Trueman looks set to be placed in Skipton’s Canal Basin, and not outside the town hall as originally planned. ...

  • New bridge to be a cut above expressandstar.com

    Work is well under way on installing a new canal bridge along a main road through Walsall as part of a £1.2 million scheme. ...

  • Liverpool Boat Show liverpool.gov.uk

    More than 130 leading figures from the UK's boating community visited Liverpool today to learn about plans for the inaugural Liverpool Boat Show. ...

Wednesday 2 December

Today's news from the web

Tuesday 1 December

Today's news from the web

  • Woman and baby rescued from River Thames richmondandtwickenhamtimes.co.uk

    A woman and her six-month-old baby have been rescued from a stranded boat. A 30ft wooden cruiser boat lost power while travelling down the River Thames and became stuck in Teddington Weir, in the early hours of Monday morning. ...

  • £1.25m Mersey & Irwell project in Warrington crainsmanchesterbusiness.co.uk

    Warrington Borough Council’s executive board has given the go ahead for reclamation works to a section of the derelict Woolston New Cut canal to create an urban ecology park on land nearby. The proposals will reclaim a 400m stretch of the canal, owned by Peel Ports, and include access improvements to an adjoining council-owned site. ...

  • Life on the river 'under threat' getreading.co.uk

    River cruisers have slammed the council for threatening legal action preventing them from mooring within the borough. ...

  • Canal volunteers muck in for world record tree-planting attempt waterscape.com

    British Waterways and members of the Grantham Canal Society will don their wellies on 5 December in an attempt to break a unique tree planting world record. ...

  • Flower lights for Glasgow's canal news.bbc.co.uk

    Plans have been unveiled to regenerate an area in central Glasgow with 8m tall street lights in the style of pink, orange and yellow flowers. The 52 "Phoenix Flowers" will run along Cowcaddens underpass which links to the Forth and Clyde Canal at Speirs Locks. ...

  • Canalside pub powered by chip fat bordercountiesadvertizer.co.uk

    Landlord Ian Spencer-Brown has developed an ingenious way of creating electricity at his canalside inn by using the old chip fat! ...

Friday 27 November

Today's news from the web

Thursday 26 November

Today's news from the web

  • Marina planned for L&L leighreporter.co.uk

    The Bickershaw South development will also include a diversion of the existing Plank Lane, provision of site road infrastructure, and construction of a 40 berth marina on the Leeds Liverpool Canal. ...

  • British Waterways to investigate wind power on the Severn gazetteseries.co.uk

    Two large wind turbines could be built on the docks at Sharpness if an assessment and investigation find it a viable site. ...

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