Payments from Local Councils to BW amount to £550,000

At one of the meetings between boaters, BW and Wiltshire Council Ken Oliver, Wiltshire Council’s Canal Officer, made a comment about the amount of money that Councils pay each year to BW. Wanting to know the amounts and what this money was for I made FOI requests to BW, Wiltshire Council, B&NES and West Berkshire Council, asking for amounts that they had paid to or received from BW in the last five years.

As usual, the figures received from the Councils and from BW don’t match, but judging from the recent totally inaccurate FOI replies from BW I feel it is more likely the Council ones are accurate. The amounts in total come to a massive £552,955 paid to BW over a five-year period. Some of the Councils quantified what the amounts were for. Apart from some very specific payments, for example for Aldermaston Wharf, the rest of the money is mostly for “canal maintenance”. Now I hardly think that a local authority is paying for maintenance to the actual cut or lock gates, so I can only assume that the money is for towpath maintenance and other parts of the canal that members of the public would use. All the councils also confirmed that continuous cruisers are not liable for Council Tax.

They all confirmed that to be liable for Council Tax, boats need to be on a permanent mooring (ie not 14 day) and that the mooring also needs to be registered as a residence at the Valuation Office Agency. If anyone wants to see the individual responses please email

Organisation What they say they paid to BW What BW say Councils paid them Difference
Wiltshire Council £244,919.23 0 £244,919.23
West Berkshire Council £306,466.05 £1,368.45 £305,097.60
B&NES Council £1,570.06 £50,316.59 £48,746.53 N.B. B&NES didn’t actually transfer monies but services to the value of the above, hence BW owe them £1,570.06
Total 552,955.34

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4 Responses to “Payments from Local Councils to BW amount to £550,000”

  1. Paul Biddy MonsterID Icon Paul Biddy says:

    BW have over £488 million in banked reserves. BW recieve an annual grant from taxpayers totalling almost £90million. BW are richer today than they have ever been. BW dont need any more money.

  2. SimonR MonsterID Icon SimonR says:

    The next question might be to ask BW exactly what the cash and services in kind translate into – how is the money spent?

    How much money are BW spending hassling liveaboard boaters going about their lawful business?

    Are the Councils involved at all concerned that they might among other things be subsidising BW to harrass members of the community? It that a good use of public money?

    I don’t have a problem in principle with Councils contributing money to the Waterways, but I hope they will have a good hard look at the BW management they are supporting financially and make sure there are some strings attached to any financial support they give BW.

  3. Malarchist MonsterID Icon Malarchist says:

    But that’s only £36863.667 per council per year, perhaps equivalent to about 45 boaters. Buttons to a council. BW are being robbed blind, considering the number of local residents who use the canal towpaths. One wouldn’t necessarily want to charge every pedestrian and dogwalker at the same rate as a navigation fee ;), but a larger council contribution would surely be appropriate.