Andrew Harry, a liveaboard boater who is on the Kennet and Avon Pilot Waterway Partnership Board, sent this report following the second meeting that he attended. “It is very interesting and exciting to be involved in localising democracy. Within the Community living, working and playing on the Kennet and Avon Canal the Government, through British Waterways, are demonstrating their commitment to enabling local views to drive the agenda. British Waterways are in the process of transforming into a New Waterways Charity and preceding this they have committed to implementing two flagship policies to demonstrate that localism works.
Firstly, BW brought together many representative groups to debate, review and propose new local mooring strategies. The Local Mooring Strategy Group is soon to propose its findings – local solutions for specific local issues. It has taken time and dedication by many who have volunteered their time and it is pleasing to see that much progress has been made. The group has not only been looking at improving mooring in the area but are also now looking at proposals to create community led enforcement processes, where voluntary action may be used to ease tensions between groups who use the canal for different purposes at the same time. There is a real opportunity here to ease tensions and resolve conflicts by improving communications without resorting to a disproportionate, costly and frankly inappropriate legal process. The Local mooring Strategy Group will soon be submitting its proposals to the K&A Partnership Board. A new Local Group that is now directly involved in formally advising the National Waterways Charity.
At the last meeting the Board focussed predominantly on the current consultation process relating to the proposal that DEFRA navigations be taken over by the NWC, as well as what structure of organisation the NWC should be. The board will submit its proposals in June. Furthermore the Board is looking forward to reviewing the Local Mooring Proposals. Its role will be to advise BW whether or not the proposals resolve the management of mooring issues and to make recommendations concerning their implementation. But where do we stand? The Government is apparently committed to enabling localism to triumph. BW has asked for a local response in support of this.
The Mooring Strategy Group and the Partnership Board now find themselves at the focus of the Government’s agenda. Local people have responded with enthusiasm and will soon be delivering the fruits of what has been asked of them. There is a real opportunity for local people to drive the agenda. All it will take to show the nation that BW and the Government are serious in this regard, and for there to exist some measure of confidence in the concept of the “big society” and localism, is for them now to commit to listening to and implementing sensible local proposals.”