Examination of Witnesses (Questions 271
WEDNESDAY 15 NOVEMBER 2000
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
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
(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
(Mr Gowling) Policy Manager, Madam Chairman.