Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 73 - 79)




  73. Good morning, gentlemen. Thank you very much for joining us. Can you give us your names and designations?
  (Mr Edwards) Neil Edwards, executive director of the Inland Waterways Association.
  (Mr Pearce) I am David Pearce, national vice-chairman of the Association of Waterways Cruising Clubs. We represent the boaters.
  (Dr Squires) I am Roger Squires, a member of the Association of Waterways Cruising Clubs.

  74. Gentlemen, you have given us very good memoranda. Is there any reason why we should not go directly into questions? Thank you very much. The questions are directed to all three of you. What actions would most effectively develop the leisure potential of the waterways?
  (Mr Edwards) One of the main points would be the maintenance backlog on the main navigation authorities' waterways. At the moment, they are severely under-funded and are catching up with a vast amount of maintenance, both for public safety and for amenity. If that backlog were cleared, that would be a major benefit for the waterways.

  75. What assessment has been made of that?
  (Mr Edwards) We understand that both British Waterways and the Environment Agency have undertaken a full survey of all the work that needs to be done.

  76. Is that published anywhere?
  (Mr Edwards) We believe it is published in the British Waterways annual report and also in their five year plan, an update of which I believe is due to be published very shortly.
  (Mr Pearce) I do not disagree with that. What we need is government commitment to the principles set out in the White Paper which we believe to be a major step forward in terms of definition of where the whole of waterways needs to go. Resources need to be adequate: grant in aid, third party funding and certainly we would encourage joint ventures as part of the PPP initiative that is currently going on with BW.

  77. A record is being taken. Please avoid initials. People listening to the evidence will find it easier if we use full titles.
  (Mr Pearce) By "PPP", I meant the government's policy of public/private partnership.

  78. And British Waterways?
  (Mr Pearce) Yes. We need to look at the legal framework as well to ensure that British Waterways are able to be a world class operator and indeed are able to tackle what has been identified as the maintenance backlog.

  79. Is there a specific initiative that would make an enormous difference?
  (Dr Squires) Sometimes bench marking of standards between agencies is a very useful ability to ensure that all are reaching a minimum level.

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