BMF supports new waterway charity but…

21/10/2010

The British Marine Federation (BMF), which represents over 1,400 members who employ more than 35,000 people in the UK marine industry, has broadly supported the plans to convert British Waterways into a new waterways charity (NWC).

The BMF believes that the Government must ensure the future of our waterways for users and those businesses that depend on them and welcomes guaranteed support for small businesses and increased commitment to the export market.

Abolition of British Waterways

Rob Stevens, Chief Executive of the British Marine Federation, commented :

“The BMF supports Defra’s decision to turn British Waterways into a new waterways charity in England and Wales, but this must take into account the needs of all who use waterways across the UK, in particular those companies who are wholly dependent on the navigation bodies to maintain the required environment in which their businesses operate. The transition must be handled as smoothly as possible, and ensure that safety is paramount.

“We already have a close and constructive working relationship with British Waterways and we will continue to work together going forward to ensure that the prime objective of this new waterways management organisation is to maintain the existing network of canals and rivers in a navigable condition.

“In order to realise the broader socio-economic benefits of the waterways, the BMF believes that there should be an appreciation for the fact that while boating and fishing licenses account for the majority of funding derived from users, many others benefit.

“Therefore the BMF believes that the funding provided to any new organisation should be sourced from all stakeholders that derive a benefit from their assets.”

via British Marine Federation (BMF) – News.

2 comments to BMF supports new waterway charity but…

  • The BMF is right to raise the point that boaters and anglers contribute to the upkeep of the waterways, many other users enjoy the waterways for free. Of course, we all make a contribution through taxation but British Waterways is already £30-40 million short of funding and the new charity is the opportunity for other users to make a contribution.

    The most obvious type of user are cyclists. There have been attempts in the past to impose a licence fee for towpaths but it was resisted. Even a nominal annual sum of say, £10, would make a useful contribution to the cost of keeping towpaths in good condition.

    Opponents of bike licensing claim that it would cost more to administer than it would collect but I don't see why such a scheme couldn't be handled by the same organisation that handles the annual anglers Rod License which collects £20+ million each year from over 1,000,000 anglers.

    I think another category of easily identified user are dog walkers. There are more than seven million dogs in the UK and dog walkers make 75 million visits to BW canals and rivers each year – 22% of all visits. The cost of emptying dog bins is one that really ought to be covered by the dog owner. With that many users, clearly a nominal licence fee of perhaps £10/pa has the potential for making a significant contribution to BW costs.

    Consideration is being given for NWC to have a membership scheme. I support this idea and would like to see a really inexpensive option amongst the range of membership categories to include a simple 'supporter category; that costs as little as £5 a year. This would be below the contribution being asked from cyclists and dog owners but ,because of the sheer numbers of everyday users of the waterways (95% of all users) would potentially amount to a very significant income stream.

    Finally, to those that still argue that such schemes would cost more than they raise, I submit that this is a classic example that could be largely run as an online application (as is the Rod Licensing scheme) with software written and maintained by volunteers.

    Let us know what you think by responding to the attached poll and, if you have more to say, adding your own comments.

  • The BMF is right to raise the point that while boaters and anglers contribute to the upkeep of the waterways, many other users enjoy the waterways for free. Of course, we all make a contribution through taxation but British Waterways is already £30-40 million short of funding and I think the new charity is an opportunity for other users to make a contribution.

    The most obvious are cyclists. There have been attempts in the past to impose a licence fee for bikes on towpaths but it was resisted. Even a nominal annual sum of say, £10, would make a useful contribution to the cost of keeping towpaths in good condition.

    Opponents of bike licensing claim that it would cost more to administer than it would collect but I don't see why such a scheme couldn't be handled by the same organisation that handles the annual anglers Rod License which collects £20+ million each year from over 1,000,000 anglers.

    I think another category of easily identified user are dog walkers. There are more than seven million dogs in the UK and dog walkers make 75 million visits to BW canals and rivers each year – 22% of all visits. The cost of emptying dog bins is surely one that ought to be covered by the dog owner. With that many users, clearly a nominal licence fee of perhaps £10/pa has the potential for making a significant contribution to BW costs.

    Consideration is being given for NWC to have a membership scheme. I support this idea and would like to see an option amongst the range of membership categories to include a simple, inexpensive, 'supporter category that costs perhaps as little as £5 a year. This would be below the contribution being asked from cyclists and dog owners but, because of the sheer numbers of everyday users of the waterways (95% of all users) the revenue could potentially amount to a very significant income stream.

    Finally, to those that still argue that such schemes would cost more than they raise, I sugesst that this is a classic example that could be largely run as an online application (as is the Rod Licensing scheme) with software written and maintained by volunteers.

    Let us know what you think by adding your own comments.

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