As speculation about whether the Government will sell off BW's assets continues to cause alarm, a new petition has been launched on the Downing Street web site.
The speculation follows an item on The Politics Show, although nothing has been said by the Government. However, what is clear is that the Government will be looking for ways to rake in money to plug some of the deficits. We, who are concerned for the future of the country's waterways, should look for ways of trying to persuade the Government that depriving BW of a key source of income is not a good idea.
The new E-Petition on the Downing Street website simply reads:
"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to protect our canals by not selling off property owned by British waterways."
The petition creator explains the reasons for the petition: "Further to recent announcements concerning the potential sell-off of properties owned by British Waterways by the Treasury, we petition the Prime Minister to give assurances that our canals will be protected and recent levels of investment, a credit to Labour, is maintained.
"Our canals are great source of pleasure for many people in the country, providing a source of employment through tourism and associated businesses. They're also home to many forms of wildlife. Without proper management this will ebb away and the network return to a state of decay and ruin.
"We urge the Government to allow British Waterways to retain its property portfolio, protecting its essential source of revenue and ensure the sustainability of its work."
The IWA and other organisations are encouraging people to sign this petition, and we would, too. Some people are doubtful as to whether such petitions have much effect but the Powers That Be will certainly be aware when a petition on a particular issue is gaining a lot of support. If the Government is still making up its mind, a demonstration of the strength of feeling might just tip the scales. The IWA points out: "The worst outcome now that this is in the public domain, would be if this petition receives scant support. That might give Ministers the impression that there are few waterways supporters who care very much about the issue. On the other hand, if it is well supported, the Government, this close to an election, is very sensitive to actions it might take which may lose votes."
Please look at the petition by following this link http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/protectourcanals/ and, if you agree with it, add your name to the more than a thousand already there!
Please tell other people about the petition, too, to help boost the numbers!
When you have done that, please consider visiting this site: www.writetothem.com and sending a message to your own MP. You could aquaint them with a few facts about the financial situation BW is in and how taking away the income from its property portfolio will make things even worse. You could mention recent examples of how the fabric of the system is falling apart and ask them to ask questions of the Environment Secretary or other ministers concerned.