From the [UK] Civil Service Quarterly

An interesting article [h/t celr] about the setting up of the Canal & River Trust, which runs (it says itself) 2000 miles of waterway in England and Wales. The article is not, perhaps, to be seen as an objective evaluation of the benefits of the UK’s Public Bodies Reform Programme, but the idea of transferring a large operation to the voluntary sector is an interesting one, as is the scope for volunteer donations and involvement (British Waterways, C&RT’s predecessor, had nothing like as high a proportion of lockkeepers as Waterways Ireland has).

I have occasionally been asked, by British folk, whether the possibility of transferring Waterways Ireland to the voluntary sector is being considered here. I have explained (a) that WI has nothing like as significant an independent (non-grant) income as BW had and (b) that any such transfer would require the rewriting of the Good Friday, St Andrew’s and (now) Stormont House Agreements. So we are stuck with the current arangements, which at present are leaving WI at the mercy of budget cuts, a disastrous pensions arrangement, disputes between its two governing departments and a nitwitted demand, from Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil and perhaps from Fine Gael too, for a pointless canal reconstruction.


One response to “From the [UK] Civil Service Quarterly

  1. The C&RT is at present not even remotely self-financing… it is still propped up by vast public-sector grants, which are, ominously, earmarked for annual reductions as it “becomes self-sustaining” – but there’s no sign of that happening at all at the moment (the self-sufficiency, not the cuts). Despite laying off most of its former workforce, it has retained its grossly-over-salaried executive tier of quangocrats, many of whom earn more than the HM’s prime minister.
    Whilst I appreciate the principle whereby them being a “charity” means they can apply for a broader range of “funding streams”, I’ve read numerous instances where they have actively prevented genuine volunteers from Canal societies from doing actual restoration and maintenance, preferring instead to contract it out via their hugely more expensive public-sector style procurement and health&safety rigmaroles.
    We’re also now in the position where a totally unaccountable “charity” now has a lot of statutory clout over the boaters who live on its navigatations… not great when disputes arise of the kind that can make people homeless.

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