Local Waterway Partnerships in the Midlands and North West

16 March 2011

Ahead of next year’s launch of a new waterways charity for England and Wales, British Waterways is currently recruiting people with an interest in their local waterway to advise and influence the management of canals and rivers in both the West Midlands and North West.

The trial ‘Local Partnerships’ will work with local waterway managers until the new waterways charity becomes fully operational in 2012 and will run in tandem with a third trial already underway on the Kennet & Avon Canal. The role of each Partnership is to give local people a greater say and role in how their local canals and rivers are run, guiding local management decisions.

Subject to forthcoming consultation by Defra, each of the existing eleven administrative waterway regions in England and Wales will have Local Partnership Boards appointed by the new charity to guide local decisions. The trials being set-up now will provide important lessons ahead of 2012 about the scope of the charity’s Local Partnership Boards and how they should operate.

Roger Hanbury, chief executive of The Waterways Trust, working with David Fletcher, chair of the National Association of Boat Owners, and the respective local waterway manager, is currently in the process of searching and selecting the Chairs for the two trial Local Partnerships.

The aim is to have the Chairs in post by the end of March, after which each will work with the local waterway management to fill a further seven member vacancies on each of the Partnerships. The target is for the Partnerships to be operational by 1 May 2011.

Roger Hanbury comments: “The trial Local Partnerships will operate as an integral part of the team that guides and supports each waterway manager. They will guide decisions about spending, help develop external funding and volunteering, and will champion the interests of the waterways to the local community, including to people in positions of influence.”

A written record of all meetings will be publicly available on the web. All positions on the Partnerships will be un-remunerated, but agreed expenses will be reimbursed.

2 comments to Trial Local Waterway Partnerships in the Midlands and North West

  • Peter Underwood

    Just how will they represent groups like liveaboards and continuous cruisers who prabably know the system better and use more of it than many BW people?

    • Will Chapman

      I think that is a very good question. When I started talking to BW about community mooring strategies I made a point of making sure that a continuous cruiser and former long term live-aboard were present. I have since had a meeting with some of the leading-lights of the Roving Trader Association and we discussed the very subject you have raised.

      We haven’t come to any conclusions but I suspect this electronic world will solve some of the difficulties simply because it makes so easy to exchange ideas. Don’t forget that user groups like RBOA and NABO specialise in looking after resident boaters and continuous cruisers so whilst all boaters in those categories may not agree with all of their policies, they will at least be concerned to represent the major concerns.

      As is already happening, others who aren’t happy with the policies of any user groups are forming their own organisations. Having said that, I would recommend trying the existing groups before striking out on their own. I say that because I have no doubt that the having so many fragmented groups doesn’t work to our advantage when negotiating with the powers that be.

      As long as everyone recognises the importance of getting everyone involved then I am confident we will find ways to achieve that aim.

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