DEFRA have published a summary of the responses to the consultation on the proposal to update the Government strategy for the Inland Waterways of England and Wales.
This is a good summary of the issues, and worth reading. It is far from a promise to do anything about it.
Reading chapter 3, "The Way Forward" gives the best clue as to what the Government is thinking, though this is all caveatted. I read two main issues
- move to the 3rd sector
- go and get money from the local authorities
I am concerned about the local authority funding as a way forward. The network of waterways cannot be run on the basis that navigation authorities run about with a begging bowl looking for funding. The third sector is in part about finding new money, and some of this should be local for local amenities. But throwing the funding largely to the wider scene of public finance will be highly fragmented and is certainly no better than dealing with DEFRA now. If DEFRA cannot manage the waterways funding, then it should move to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). At least then we would be dealing with one Government body. With split responsibility there is the real danger of just getting less and less.
Click here to read the DEFRA summary