Tuesday, October 04, 2011

BW Chairman responds to Canal Trust President's criticism of its financial record

The forthright views of the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust President, David Bruce, expressed at a meeting in Devizes last Monday when he said: "British Waterway couldn't even organise a piss-up in a brewery",  struck a chord with canal supporters at the meeting — but not with British Waterways.
BW Chairman, Tony Hales

BW Chairman, Tony Hales has responded to KAcanalTIMES with the following letter which we reproduce here in full:


Dear KAcanalTIMES,
I was saddened by your report of a speech by David Bruce last week.  It left no doubt as to his strength of feeling, but many questions as to his intentions and motivation.
David and I have known each other on and off for a long time. I know he is passionate for the K&A, and the waterways, but so am I, and so are my fellow trustees and colleagues. The difference between us is that we are the ones responsible for the network and having to make all the difficult decisions. We see the sterling work that people in BW achieve day in and day out to keep our extraordinary 2,000-mile network available for everyone to use and we also see they work best where they have the enthusiasm and support of local people. I cannot for the life of me understand why someone in David’s position thinks that rubbishing all and sundry and being so incredibly negative is going to help the K&A or its relationship with the new charity.
I am not going to get into a public slanging match or claim that everything that BW has done has been right. No organisation, where many people make dozens of decisions every day can claim this. However overall BW has: expanded the network; consistently improved the quality of some extraordinary assets; grown its commercial income in both absolute and proportionate terms; and driven down its cost base. We have also championed an innovative solution in the creation of a charity, with a long term government contract that - subject to final terms being agreed - puts our waterways on a more consistent and sustainable basis, with governance more closely in the hands of local communities rather than one Westminster minister.
BW has not simply championed this move because it believes it to be right, but because it listened and responded to what users told us they want. Government is committed to the new charity, it has the support of the vast majority of people I meet on the waterways and it offers opportunities that will deliver a better network (including the K&A). So why not help shape it rather than shouting abuse from the side-lines? After all that is the whole idea of moving it from government control to a Council, trustees and waterway partnerships.
I am always keen to talk to anyone. I hope David will meet me again before completing the “robust response” he is reported to have promised to the latest Defra consultation.  He must of course express his own views but on the basis of as much understanding as possible and a workable vision for the future. I look forward to our discussion.
Tony Hales
Chairman British Waterways


Read: British Waterways couldn't even organise a piss-up in a brewery says canal trust president  

Comments:

Kirsten Elliott said...
Well, it's not offering a better K&A at the moment - canal closed at Caen Hill, the Widcombe flight leaking water at every pore, so that boats further up the canal are resting on the bottom. If the majority of people he meets on the towpath is in favour, he can't have met many people.
October 10, 2011 8:27 PM 

Allan Richards said...
Quite right for David Bruce to criticise BW's commercial performance.

Last year they should have made £33m net profit from joint ventures alone according to plan. For the fourth year in a row, BW recorded a loss on its joint ventures. Poring £9m of public money into its pub joint venture in a failed attempt to prevent it falling into administration is unforgivable. If that money had been spent on maintaining K&A instead......

It seems that Mr Hales wishes to meet me for the same reasons he wishes to meet David Bruce. Here is my response:

http://www.narrowboatworld.com/index.php/news-flash/3658-dear-mr-hales
October 11, 2011 9:37 AM 

Anonymous said...
Quote: "However overall BW has: expanded the network; consistently improved the quality of some extraordinary assets; grown its commercial income in both absolute and proportionate terms; and driven down its cost base."

Well, that all happened before TH & Robbing Evans got involved, ripped us all off & let the canal system fall into disrepair. And the beginning of the end started long before the credit crunch set in...

October 12, 2011 1:01 PM 

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