British Waterways has today launched proposals for its future, entitled "Twenty Twenty - a Vision for for the Future of our Canals and Rivers".
This is the result of a major strategic review that has taken place and follows the government's decision to allow BW to retain its successful property portfolio.
The plans include increasing efficiencies, opening up new funding and partnership opportunities, creating closer links with local communities and the start a move towards the waterways achieving a 'third sector' trust or charitable status similar to that of the National Trust.
As a first step towards greater efficiency, BW proposes a restructure of its own operations in England and Wales, by removing an entire layer of management and creating eleven new, smaller, 'hands-on' waterway units. The move would make around 100 office staff redundant, but the £10 million annual saving would be redirected towards waterway maintenance.
Under the new structure, BW would put a greater emphasis on working with volunteers and local communities.
BW Chief Executive, Robin Evans, said: "Our absolute priority must be to maintain investment in the waterways and this means reducing spending elsewhere. Our proposed new structure will both redirect important funding to essential maintenance work but also make us much more responsive to customers and partners."
In the longer term, BW calls for some fresh thinking about what the waterways mean to Britain and how their sustainable future might be secured. It proposes that, by 2020, it should become a third sector 'public interest company' or trust. BW believes that such a change could stimulate greater participation in the waterways by volunteers and other individuals, enhance openness and accountability for communities and waterway users, create opportunities for new sources of income such as grants and donations, and ensure the historic network is held in trust for the nation.
More information about BW's proposals can be found on its website, here: www.britishwaterways.co.uk/twentytwenty.
The document "Twenty Twenty - a Vision for for the Future of our Canals and Rivers" can be downloaded here.