The importance of local waterways partnerships

NABO chairman, David Fletcher, reflects on a collaboration with Roger Hanbury, chief executive of The Waterways Trust, and the local waterway managers, Dean Davies in the West Midlands and Debbie Lumb in the North West, to find the chairs for the trial Local Waterway partnerships.

"I have been very happy to be an independent participant in the selection process. A great benefit for me is that I can now really see how important the local partnerships are to the future of the waterways.

I feel that there are three areas of influence: the urgent need to bring forward locally novel areas of support and funding, preserving the long standing commitment of the mature user organisations, and participation in the the governance of the business. How these three areas work together and share the workload without barriers will determine the future of what we love.

These trial Partnerships in the West Midlands and North West, alongside a third trial already underway on the Kennet & Avon Canal, will work with local waterway managers until the new waterways charity becomes fully operational in 2012.

Together we appointed Peter Mathews CMG and Professor Steven Broomhead, professor of entrepreneurial education at Liverpool Hope University, to be the chairs of the trial Partnerships for the West Midlands and North West respectively.

Peter Mathews is chair of the Black Country Consortium, which works to coordinate regeneration in the Black Country area of the West Midlands, and chairman and managing director of Black Country Metals.  A prominent business leader, he has held the position of chair at various national and international organisations including The World Recycling Conference, UKTI Advanced Engineering and the Midlands World Trade Forum. 

Peter said:  “The Midlands canal system has a great story to tell and I welcome the opportunity to enable people in the West Midlands to have a real say in how these local waterways are run and to support their improvement and development. ”

Professor Steven Broomhead, professor of entrepreneurial education at Liverpool Hope University, is to be the chair of the North West trial Partnership.  He previously spent eight years as chief executive at Northwest Regional Development Agency, prior to which he was chief executive at Warrington Borough Council.  He has held the position of chair at a number of private and public organisations. 

Steven said:  “Our canals and rivers are an important part of our heritage and I am looking forward to working with the local waterway manager and the community to rejuvenate the North West waterways and to safeguard their future.”

The chairs will now work with the local waterway management to fill a further seven member vacancies on each of the Partnerships, with the aim of having the Partnerships operational during May 2011.  Further details about the positions and the application process will be announced shortly.  In the meantime, expressions of interest can be emailed to Roger Hanbury:

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. 

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

This is the way forward and NABO will be encouraging boaters' representatives to be as involved as possible in the unfolding development of the New Waterways Charity."