On 29 February the Government laid before Parliament the draft order under the Public Bodies Act 2011 to transfer the functions of British Waterways to the Canal and River Trust. A Freedom of Information request has confirmed that no application to register the Canal and River Trust as a charity has been made – so there’s still time to object to the Charity Commission. See http://kanda.boatingcommunity.org.uk/wordpress/nows-the-time-to-object-to-registration-of-bw-charity/
The draft order will be examined initially by the Environment Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee in the House of Commons and the Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee in the House of Lords. The transfer of BW to charity status, planned for 1st April 2012, has been delayed until summer 2012 because of the time the Parliamentary procedure is likely to take. One of the amendments won by the opposition is that all such transfers and abolitions of public bodies have to be subject to the Super Affirmative procedure for Statutory Instruments which means that they have to be agreed by both houses of Parliament.
The delay is also due to changes to the Freedom of Information Act that will be required. Normally organisations can just be added to the schedule to the Act, but as the Canal and River Trust will only be partially subject (only its statutory functions will be subject to Freedom of Information) this will need amendment to the Freedom of Information Act.
The funding settlement for the Canal and River Trust was announced by DEFRA in January. This equates to an average of £53m per year over 15 years, which is better than the government’s original offer of £39m over 10 years, but nowhere near the £80m plus needed to maintain the waterways in a fully navigable condition.
You can download the first two reports from the Canal and River Trust’s Transition Trustees here