|Volume 5, Number 11 - Summer 2005|
In it for the Long Haul
The retiring Chairman of the British Waterways Board, Dr. George Greener, did not mince his words when he gave the address at our Annual Meeting in March. He gave a robust defence of BW's current strategies for investing in the waterways, making as much as possible from their assets, and promoting the cause of restoration and the expansion of the cruising network.
There is no doubt that during his time the waterways world has changed dramatically - canals restored, new features and links created, and many miles of the canalside scene transformed. As Peter Keen's account of his address (pages 7-8) infers, some of this has attracted criticism, but the very fact that Dr. Greener should attend the AGM of SCARS to give encouragement and support to our efforts demonstrates his commitment to the waterways.
Not that he gave false cause for hope. He was realistic - major, multi-million pound restorations are in the past. It will take far longer, but section by section restoration, as funding can be brought in, will achieve the same end, eventually.
His optimism would seem to be well-founded. The cover of a recent issue of REGENERATION (April 29th, 2005) was headlined: "Prescott: give me back the waterways", and continues "When they split up (the DETR) waterways just dropped off. But they are a powerful part of regeneration ... that should be there". BW themselves have announced that new Boat Licences are increasing at nearly 2% per year, and the Liverpool Pier Head Link will actually be on site this year, a key project in the city's dockside regeneration.
Confidence in the waterways is high. Commitment from stakeholders is high. The right schemes will happen - restoring the Sankey and creating a new canal to link it to the rest of the system is ambitious, but it's also imaginative and has terrific regeneration potential. Even after 20 years' hard slog, we've still got work ahead of us!
David Long, Chairman, SCARS
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