Still no reply from my MP regarding my plea for him to oppose the proposed cuts to CRT funding, but at least one MP is doing something about it, and who'd have thought it - it's none other than the , ahem, startlingly debonair Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant! It turns out he's the chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Waterways.
Here's what he said.
“When the old British Waterways Board – a part of the Department of Transport – was converted into a charitable trust 11 years ago, the plan was that the Canal and River Trust would become financially independent by 2027 and they received a 15 year grant.
“They have gone a long way towards financial independence, but have not achieved it yet.
“The present grant does not run out for a further four years, by which time the trust will have received £735million from the Government in addition to their own operations including mooring fees, rents on property, endowments and other income. The annual average income from the Government amounts to £50 million per year.
“The new financial settlement is for ten years and averages out at over £40million a year, but is less taking into account inflation. But this won’t kick in until April 2027 so there is still considerable time to resolve the funding gap.
“As chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Waterways which includes canals in its remit, I have had several conversations with the chief executive of the Canal and River Trust, the Secretary of State for the Environment Therese Coffey, and Treasury Ministers.
“We are exploring alternative ways of funding including a large endowment which might give the trust the financial independence both the Trust and the Government desire.
“We all enjoy our waterways, whether it be on the water or walking along canal towpaths. This valuable asset cannot be jeopardised and I hope a resolution is found over the next year or so to allow the trust to plan ahead.”
Well good on yer Michael. I never thought I'd say that.