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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.)

Friday 4 December  | Richard Fairhurst  | 8.38pm, Friday 4 December 2009

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