Boaters invited to consider joining new Kennet and Avon Partnership Board

Two boaters attended an informal meeting on 3 February for people who have expressed their interest in becoming involved in the pilot Kennet and Avon Canal Partnership Board. Previously, there had been some doubt whether liveaboard boaters who had applied to the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust to be on the new Board would be welcome. However, liveaboard boaters made it clear that they should be represented on the new Board. It remains to be seen whether their presence at the meeting will lead to formal membership.

Now that it is almost certain BW will become a charity, BW envisages that the pilot Board will evolve into the formal Local Board in advance of the creation of the new charity. The current Board is made up of the riparian local authorities (BANES, Wiltshire, West Berkshire, etc); the K and A Trade Association, the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust and British Waterways. These bodies set up the partnership in 1994 that secured the £25million Heritage Lottery Fund grant to complete the restoration. According to BW, the pilot Board will be expected to support the development of  “the waterway plan”; liveaboard boaters clearly need to have a voice in this plan and to ensure that the homes and rights of everyone living on boats on the canal are respected.

Below are the minutes of the Kennet and Avon Partnership Board meeting on 29 September 2010 and the minutes of its predecessor the Kennet and Avon Canal Partnership meeting on 28 July 2010. The 28 July dialogue between Sally Ash and Ken Oliver on travellers’ rights is particularly interesting. There was also a meeting on 24 November; we have made an FOI request for the minutes.

The Kennet & Avon Waterways Partnership Board

Confirmed minutes of the meeting held on 29th September 2010

at the Devizes Wharf Centre


 1.      Attendance and Apologies   Attendees: Paul Hendry (West Berks Council), David Lawrence (BANES), Mark Minkley (BANES), Ken Oliver ( Wiltshire Council), Fleur de Rhe-Philipe (Wiltshire Council), Mike Rodd (KACT), Andrew Rowles (West Berks Council), (Danese Rudd (KATA), Mark Stephens (BW), James Young (BW). Apologies: Bill Fisher (KATA), Richard Smith (Bristol Harbour Authority), Warren Swaine (Reading Borough Council). In Attendance: Vince Moran (BW), Julie Sharman (BW), Rebecca Wells (KACT).


 2. An introduction by the chair


 On behalf of the Trust and BW, MGR welcomed attendees to what, he was sure, would be an historic meeting. He explained that BW had originally asked the Trust to provide a Chair for the Board and it had been assumed that this would be the then Chair of the KACT Trust Council, David Rees. However, DR had recently resigned and the Trust Council was working to identify a suitable replacement. In the interim, the Council had suggested that he, as the Trust’s General Manager, should be offered as the Acting Chair.  There were no objections to MGR being the Acting Chair MGR reminded attendees that the new Board had arose out of proposals from various sectors of the waterways community that, given the proposed changes to BW’s structure, targeted for implementation in 2012, that a pilot “Local Waterways Board” should be established to explore how such a local stakeholder group could form part of the new BW structure. He pointed out that as such a group had already been established on the K&A to oversee the HLF–funded project, so it seemed appropriate to build the new pilot Board around that original Board.


He referred attendees to the proposed Terms of Reference. (Tabled and attached herewith.) He noted that these may need to be changed as the new Board developed it role.



3. Review of the economic and social impact study of the canal.


 JY  presented this item and started by noting that the Conservation Plan (previously sent to all attendees) was a key requirement of, and outcome from,  the HLF grant, and that all the partners to the award had signed up to ensuring its long term implementation. He noted that this well-written and comprehensive document made it clear that the local authorities were the driving forces of the original project, with substantial long-term commitments to the waterway, and thus had to be actively engaged in this new pilot Board. JY noted that the social and the economic impacts of the waterways were key to the original grant being awarded and of vital interest to the local authorities in the future. He explained that the original social and the economic impacts studies had been followed up by a BW updating report in 2010 (previously sent to all attendees). It was notable that this new report drew the conclusion that original projections of the various benefits derived from the restoration had been conservative and it most cases, the numbers resulting had exceeded original estimates. MGR noted that based on both these reports, it was clear that a new long term strategic/management plan will need to be put in place by this new Board to underpin its activities.


KO noted that whilst the Conservation Plan is very good there will need to be a lot of work done to meet its aspirations.


FDRP noted that to many observers the Conservation Plan had been written because it was simply a requirement of the HLF bid, and that little attention had been given to it following the completion of the project!.


JY responded that this was, in some sectors, true but the challenge is to make the Conservation Plan relevant now.


AR raised the point as to who will fund any implementation plans, beyond those committed to under the original HLF award, as there simply is no additional money available.


JY stated that we will need to sell the ongoing social and economic benefits to the riparian authorities (and other stakeholders), as a great opportunity, worth the investment. He also added that we would have to investigate other government sourced social welfare and educational grants that could also be utilized on the canals.


FDRP noted that the original HLF contracts run out in 2018 and the partners had all entered in to these thinking that once this date arrived, that will be the ended of the funding required. There will need to be a big sell to get authorities to agree to put more money into the K&A.


MS mentioned that we are not talking necessarily about finding sources of new money, but rather we are looking at new ways of spending it. This was as true of BW as of both the Trust and the riparian authorities.


RFDP suggested that we need to reenergise the whole canal agenda.

  4.      Reports by stakeholders on their vision and aspirations for the canal corridor.   FRDP started by saying that the Wiltshire Council sees the canal as an asset and as a great benefit. One of the targets of the Council this year is economic regeneration and by extending the canal network this could happen. However, she noted that there is no money available to fund this. We also will need to look at the current capacity of the K&A as it does appear that it is reaching its maximum usage. JY replied that there is a BW approach to how the capacity is measured but it does largely boil down to the boat movements. 

MGR noted that local communities should be more involved in the waterway, maybe, for example, looking after a lock or a stretch of the canal. Also we should aim to get local schools and colleges involved. He stated that an education week had been held in Devizes in June and this was very successful.


JY added it was a good idea to get schools included and at Thatcham, for example, to engage in talks with those responsible for the exploration centre, right next to the canal.


PH stated that he had been talking to people who have an apprehensive view on the work of the existing K&A Partnership, and he felt that direct engagement of local communities could raise the profile of the local authorities in the K&A.


DL noted that in BANES they see the waterway as linking Bath to Northeast Somerset. He reported also that in speaking to members of the public he feels that continuous cruisers are not monitored as well as they should be. He mentioned that the tow-path is overcrowded in places and local people are not feeling welcome in using it.


He felt that offering involvement in the waterways to schools is a very good way forward.


MM added that the canal tow-path, for example, can be used as a safe way to walk to school and work.


KO suggested that all interested Council Officers should meet at a separate meeting.


DR stated on behalf of the Trade Association that many of the mechanical aspects of the canal need some attention. She also added that it could maybe be possible for the villages surrounding the canal to advertise what services/attractions they offer. She also noted that when the canal is finally reclassified to Cruiseway status this will be good news to all businesses operating on the waterway.


MS noted that he hopes that BW can continue to maintain that the canal to the high standards required but that this is highly dependent on funding. It was essential to ensure that all stakeholders understand this and do what they can to optimise resources available. He concluded by emphasising that it is not BW’s canal – it is the communities’ canal!



5.      Process of developing a waterway strategy


 MGR introduced this by saying that one of the very first activities of the new Board was to develop a strategic/management plan for the waterway. From this, business plans could also be developed. He invited Julie Sharman to talk about BW’s experience in developing such strategic plans. She responded that in BW they find it valuable to approach this via a series of workshop sessions, essentially operating as think tanks, involving relevant stakeholders. From these strategic plans can emerge and subsequently agreed to by the relevant boards/committees. MGR agreed that in his experience this is an appropriate way forward but that all relevant stakeholders will need to be included.


VM noted that the Board should also have oversight of the present moorings consultation, but that the Board should avoid getting involved in details and rather operate at a higher, strategic level.


MGR asked the question as to how we put the workshop sessions together. FRDP suggested that we should wait until after the forthcoming government spending review.


FRDP also added that whilst she agrees stakeholders need to be represented but in the end those who are paying the money need to have the final say.


DL commented that the board will need to work out what the priorities are in managing the waterway and then tackle the main issues.


JY also noted that from the various expressions of interest he and MGR had received, there are some interesting and qualified people who are keen to become involved in the work of the Board. We need to have a clear response to them.


MGR suggested that, following on from JS’s model of strategy development, we should hold facilitated workshops, involving the people who had expressed an interest, as well as other relevant persons. To achieve this we should first develop a strategic plan outline document which can provide the basis for the workshops. We should advise all those who have expressed interest in the work of the Board that they will be invited to these workshops, to be held early in the new year.



6.      Marketing and Communications


 There will be an agreed communication sent to all people who expressed an interest. There should also be a statement released that the Board has been formed and its first objective was to develop a strategic plan for the waterway. JY will speak to the BW’s Head of Communications as the statement will need to be joint with Trust and BW 




7.      Appointment of the Board’s chair


 MGR stated there is a meeting to be held with a prominent and highly respected Trust member, who is well connected to the K&A Waterway. All attendees agreed that he should be invited to chair the Board. 




8.      Next Steps


 MS stated that it would be a good idea to invite the Environmental Agency to join the Board. Whilst they do not directly contribute financially to the K&A waterway, they are able to assist in many ways. MGR noted the EA’s involvement also in projects such as the Bone Mill sluice project. Their statutory obligations also intersect directly with those of BW. It was agreed that we need to consider carefully which other stakeholders should be invited to join the Board, but that this was not an issue which required immediate attention. JY added it may be appropriate to develop one or more Advisory Groups, which would report directly to the Board. Possibly the chairs of such advisory groups could well become Board members. MGR suggested that we should also look into the relationship of the Users Forum and the Board.


 9.      Next meeting


 Wednesday 24th November 2:30, at the Devizes Wharf Centre

 Here are the 28 July minutes:

The Kennet and Avon Canal Partnership

Minutes from Meeting of the Partnership Held on Wednesday 28th July 2010

at 2:30 pm at the Canal Centre Devizes

1. Attendance and


David Rees (Chair) (K&A Trust) , Mike Rodd (K&A Trust), Ken

Oliver (Wiltshire Council Canal Officer), Fleur de Rhe Philipe

(Wiltshire Council), Paul Hendry (West Berks Council), Warren

Swain (Reading Council), Andrew Rowles (West Berkshire

Council) Mark Stephens (BW), Sally Ash (BW), James Young


Apologies- Damian Kemp (BW), Mark Minkley (BANES)

Notes: (i)The Chair, DA, welcomed all attendees and noted that

this was a special meeting called to discuss 2 important and

urgent items only

(ii) DR asked if attendees accepted the notes from the last

meeting, and this was agreed

2. Consultation on

Moorings on the K&A


Noting the tabled document, SA explained that that, following the

public consultations and various public meetings held in Devizes

and elsewhere, she was seeking the opinions of the Partnership

Board regarding the proposals that had been brought forward,

especially that local moorings strategies should be developed by

local stakeholders within the framework of BW’s national policy.

She noted that the issues relating to moorings were an on-going

one, especially problematic on sections of the K&A and other

popular canals and waterways. Given the legal problems which

occur in getting a residential boater off of a mooring where they

have over-stayed, she felt that it was vital to get an agreed policy

which would be supported by the boater communities themselves

SA suggested that there are 3 aspects which could make

implementing a mooring strategy easier. One is to have an

appropriate overstay charge, which could be debited from a

licensing account. Secondly, introducing “transient mooring

permits” offering boaters the opportunity to remain within a

confined geographic area without a fixed home mooring. The fee

for this would be similar to that of a long term towpath mooring in

the area and would cover the cost of a fixed winter mooring for

November – March inclusive.

The 3rd consideration would be for there to be different control

processes in place which would implement whatever strategy was


An invitation has gone to stakeholder representatives to a meeting

on the 4th of August where there will be maps available. These are

to be taken away and used to help create zones along the canal.

A written explanation will also need to be provided, as to why

these should be made zoned areas.

DR raised the question of having tracking devices in boats? SA

said that this would be unlikely to be cost effective and may raise

civil liberties objections.

PH asked why Devizes to Bath has been chosen to test this pilot

– was the problem at its worst here? SA responded saying that

indeed there are problems here but also that BW has resources

available here which can help during the pilot phase.

KO, from Wiltshire Council, said that they had become involved at

a later stage but would like to see a resolution for the whole of the

K and A, and did not want to see something which just moved

boats from one county to another.

SA noted that the job of the BW enforcement officers are to check

if a boat has a license and compiling with the rules. She also

noted that the BANES Council had offered the services of an

enforcement officer but so far this has not happened.

WS noted that that the various authorities (BW, The Environment

Agency and the local authorities) are not working closely enough..

This would be essential in the future and whatever the solutions

are to be, everybody needs to understand them.

FdRF mentioned that it was essential to make the rules fair and

just. Tracking devices, in her opinion, are not the way to go. She

also feels is that most of the boaters will be the best allies in

implementing any solution which they felt was fair and just.

MGR noted that he was also representing the K&A Trade

Association (in the absence of Bill Fisher). He reported that the

Trade Association reported that many hire boaters are not

enjoying their experience as they had problems finding suitable

short term moorings.

WS noted that Reading Council have just obtained court orders to

move over-staying boats.

JY asked about the rights of the gypsies/ travellers? KO

responded that a live aboard has the same rights as a traveller.

SA noted that whilst BW have the right to revoke a license, they

never remove a boat from the waterway which is someone’s

home without a Court Order.

KO stated that he felt there are other ways of dealing with this

which have not been considered. SA said if there are she would

be happy to consider them.

PH suggested that local authorities could help using their

enforcement officers.

FdRP stated that the various mooring zones in each

neighbourhood need clear definitions and that the local Councils

must be involved. MS suggested that maybe it was possible to

merge the enforcement from BW with local authorities.

MS noted that the regular patrolling of boats will not necessarily

help the situation as boaters will simply just move around.

Mooring zones need to be clearly defined. He also noted that any

mooring strategy will need to be clear as it could easily be


DR suggested that there should be a joint meeting of all the

related Councils and BW. SA and KO agreed that this is a good

idea and KO will help as much as he can. They will try and

arrange a meeting.

2. Proposed

development of the

Partnership into a

Local Waterways


DR led by saying that BW were very much in favour of working

with the Trust on a pilot scheme whereby a Local Waterways

Board, (based on the present Partnership Board) would be

established to, effectively, manage the K&A (and B & T)


JY said that the whole idea of the new Board will be to engage

new ideas, new people and get as many stakeholders involved.

The idea will be to get this message out in newspapers and the

Butty. The whole idea is that the Board will not just be a talking

shop but will have an active role in making decisions. The first

meeting is set for September 2010.

MGR said that this is a very exciting time for the Trust, and if the

approach is to work, will require the Trust to change as much as

BW. We also need to ensure the full engagement of the Trade


MGR also added that the pilot model will need to be transferable

to all the other canals and waterways in the UK if it is to be the

basis for the future management of these.

FrDP felt that many other organisations and people should be

including such as conservationists, but that the Board itself should

be small, say, 10-12, and certainly not 35 as stated. She agreed

this must not be seen as a one-off but people must to see this as

a good opportunity to be involved in the creation of a new

approach to managing the canal.

JY commented that the idea was to have a small Board

associated with a larger advisory group.

WS commented that the proposal looks promising but we do need

to ensure this mean true local ownership.

MGR and KO both raised issue as to what real powers would the

Board have? Without such real power, there will not be any

serious support from the key stakeholders.

JY commented that BW in its new form will not be in existence for

another couple of years, so the present BW Directors would have

to act as though they were in the a new structure in order to make

the Board work.

MS proposed that, by the September meeting, he would like to

see what the local authorities, the Trust, the Trade Association

and BW would like to see and achieve. Where possible he would

work this in to his Business plan.


t was agreed by all that this was a very good proposal and all

would be willing to consider all aspects of the new proposal and

report back at next meeting.


Tags: , , ,