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A meeting of the APPWG was held on Thursday 14th May using the Zoom videoconferencing facility. NABO attended as observers – the norm for such meetings.

This well “attended”   meeting was chaired by the APPWG’ s Chairman, Michael Fabricant, and very appropriately focused on the need for dedicated financial support for waterways businesses.

The lead speaker was Paul Rodgers, the National Chairman of the IWA, who emphasised that most waterways businesses are highly seasonal and thus are being hit hard by the lockdown, and unless urgent funding is provided by government many will fail. To this end the IWA, British Marine, Canal & River Trust and the Broads Authority are calling for the Government to provide targeted support for the inland waterways sector. They are asking for a specific financial aid package, similar to that recently announced for the fishing industry, to allow the Navigation Authorities to underwrite licence and mooring fees for waterways businesses this year.

NABO totally supports this view and has independently approached government essentially supporting this view.

The IWA presentation was followed by ones by Richard Parry of CRT, John Packman of the Broads Authority and Brian Clark of British Marine. In supporting the views of the joint submission, they also emphasised how important it was for the waterways businesses to get back working as soon as possible. It was pointed out that it is relatively easy for people on boats to effectively self-isolate and given that many folks would be looking for a UK-based holiday as soon as this was possible, this could be of some help in bringing at least some income to the hire boat and day boat companies, and to many boating related businesses, as well as to the many waterways-related charities.

After some excellent discussion it was agreed that the event organisers would put together a summary of the views of attendees which, once agreed, would be sent to the relevant Ministers and also to the Welsh Assembly, noting that the latter was still out of phase with England on the opening up of its waterways!

Mike Rodd