Two ministers closely involved with the waterways have been moved in the Government's reshuffle.
Jonathan Shaw, the former Defra Minister with responsibility for waterways, has moved to the Department for Work and Pensions as a Parliamentary undersecretary of state.
Many waterway groups felt that Mr Shaw took a more positive approach than his predecessor. He helped to set up an inter-departmental group for waterways issues, helping to ensure a co-ordinated approach when issues crossed government department boundaries. He also supported the ongoing update of the Waterways for Tomorrow charter for the future of the waterways.
Phil Woolas who, as Minister for the Environment had overall responsibility for areas that included waterways, has become Minister of State for Borders and Immigration at the Home Office.
As a local MP, Mr Woolas takes an interest in the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, which goes through his constituency. Earlier this year, he travelled on a boat up the locks from Uppermill to Diggle, speaking with boaters about issues of concern to them.
While we wish Mr Shaw and Mr Woolas well in their new jobs, it is sad to see sympathetic ministers move onwards. It takes time for waterways organisations to build relationships with those who make decisions and it takes time for new ministers to gather all the threads of what is going on in their area of responsibility. We hope that enough momentum has been started for recent progress to be continued under new management!