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BW to keep its property

The Treasury has announced, a day earlier than expected, that British Waterways will be allowed to keep its property portfolio - at least for now.

The property had been considered for sale to raise funds for the Government. BW had lobbied furiously to keep it; property development is one of BW's main sources of income for the money used to maintain the waterways.

In the short term, though, BW has been told to place its property in a "dedicated, wholly-owned subsidiary of British Waterways", which the Government says will give it greater clarity on where the money goes. The new company will have its own board, meaning also that BW itself will be able to concentrate on the core task of running the waterways.

And in the long term? The options are still open. The Treasury says only that it is important that BW keeps the property "under current economic conditions"; for the long term, the Treasury will continue to talk to BW about "the appropriate business model to provide a sustainable future for the waterways".

BW is anxious, though, to deny that the new subsidiary is "a first step towards disposal", and Robin Evans, BW's Chief Executive, called the announcement "the right decision".

Tuesday 21 April  | Richard Fairhurst  | 3.42pm, Tuesday 21 April 2009


It would seem that government have finally found out that the £130 million that British Waterways has made in profit over the last 5 years (for which we have accounts) has not been spent on its primary objective of maintaining the waterways. Whilst the split between operational and non-operational activities may give greater clarity in future goverment needs to be upfront and admit that BW has been allowed to reinvest profit in its property portfolio and joint ventures which could have been used to maintain our heritage.
With the economic downturn that money is lost to us in the short term.

Allan  | 10.36PM, Tuesday 21 April

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