We attach, with much pleasure and relief, the positive response we have received from the Waterways Ombudsman to the reported scrapping of the Waterways Ombudsman Committee
I would like to reassure you that the Waterways Ombudsman Committee has not been abandoned, and also the Waterways Ombudsman Scheme remains entirely independent and will continue.
Just before the Canal & River Trust was created by way of statutory transfer in 2012, the Waterways Ombudsman Committee at that time, recognising my experience and independence as an ombudsman, appointed me to investigate complaints against the newly created Trust, replacing the previous Ombudsman, Hilary Bainbridge, who had investigated complaints against British Waterways. It was recognised that the Committee who made that appointment would have to be reconstituted to reflect the new governance structure of Canal & River Trust. The Trust is currently in the process of doing this and has been in discussions with the Ombudsman Association for the past six months.
Whilst the Trust accepts that the Committee could have been reconstituted sooner, there can be no suggestion that this delay has in any way affected the integrity and independence of the Waterways Ombudsman Scheme. When the newly constituted Waterways Ombudsman Committee meets, the minutes of those meetings will be published, as before, on the Waterways Ombudsman website.
In the meantime, it is very much business as usual for me. As far as complainants and the complaints process (both on my side and the Trust's) are concerned, nothing at all has changed.