Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 271 - 279)




  271. Good morning, your Ladyship. I hope you are going to recover from being addressed as IWAAC. Would you be kind enough to identify yourself?
  (Viscountess Knollys) Madam Chairman, thank you. Good morning. And, can I ask, is it appropriate, my colleague Ian Mercer has been held up on the train, no more said, I wonder if it is possible to replace him with Derek Gowling?

  272. Yes; that is fine.
  (Viscountess Knollys) Thank you.

  273. Can I ask you, did you want to make a few general remarks, or may we go straight to questions?
  (Viscountess Knollys) I think, please, straight to questions.

  274. Thank you. May I ask you if you adequately represent the interests of all who enjoy the waterways?
  (Viscountess Knollys) I think we do. IWAAC members are appointed because of their expertise and knowledge and background and influence, and they advise British Waterways and Government on those interests; there is regeneration of all sorts, there is councillor, urban and rural, there is the environment, and everything to do with heritage and knowledge of waterways, plus the users, both boaters and others. As you will know, we do not cover the transport issue.

  275. You do not think you are compromised by getting your cash from British Waterways?
  (Viscountess Knollys) I think there is a perception that there is a problem in that area, and I think IWAAC would probably say, as things have evolved, it would be better, now that we have been asked by Ministers to look at other things which are not necessarily British Waterways issues, like social inclusion, innovation on waterways, restorations, perhaps it would be more appropriate if it were looked at again; but it is in the 1968 Act and so there is no alternative, as it stands.

  276. So do you think perhaps leisure boating users should pay a higher percentage of the costs of running the waterways?
  (Viscountess Knollys) No, Madam Chairman. IWAAC would definitely advise that the boaters are an ageing population, as we see it, and the costs are going up.

  277. That sounds a bit cruel?
  (Viscountess Knollys) I am afraid it is a fact, I believe. I have not been involved with the waterways for that long, but I have been advised that there are fewer and fewer younger people accessing the waterways. It is expensive, boats are not cheap, and I think we are advising that as many cheaper ways of accessing as can be found to familiarise younger people with boating. But, basically, we would advise that a rise with inflation is what is required, and the funding that is needed for the leisure access of waterways has got to be found elsewhere. I do not know whether colleagues would like to add to that.

  278. Dr Eaton, do you want to comment on that?
  (Dr Eaton) Thank you, Madam Chairman. By far the major users and enjoyers of the waterways are towpath walkers, overwhelmingly. These are people who are seeing the canals as linear parks, just as they might visit a municipal park perhaps, and the basic problem, for which I do not offer a solution, is how to recognise this enormous value, this service that British Waterways provides to the community, in terms of a tangible flow of cash, in response to what the community as a whole is gaining.

  279. Mr Gowling, forgive me saying this, I have not got you on the membership list, can I ask you what your status is?
  (Mr Gowling) Policy Manager, Madam Chairman.

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