Monday, 10 August 2009

Debts BW have incurred through bad investments

Narrowboat World (NBW) have today headlined the losses on joint ventures that BW made last year and yes I'm glad they are taking this up.

I was chatting last night with another boater, an old and friend and fellow campaigner and we were pondering this same old point about what a cleft stick BW are in. On the one hand they are claiming poverty on the other hand they have this huge amount of resources. (Well a lot less huge thanks to recent events). Below a contribution of mine originally in NBW forum a few days ago on all this:

BW funding for 2009/10 - who's really to blame?...

It seems corrections are coming thick and fast (see the comments on Victor's most recent column). Sorry, but I would like to add one more.

The headline item on funding needs a little qualification. DEFRA have NOT cut BW's funding by 16.7%. They actually only cut it by 8% (or about £4.6 million).

That's still a huge blow to the waterways and hugely disappointing.

However BW management have done even greater damage all on their own. They overspent (or to use the euphemism that seems to be being applied, 'brought forward') £5 million of this year's DEFRA funding before the year started. At £5 million, that makes up the greater part of the overall 16.7% cut in cash that will be available to BW from DEFRA this year.

Add to this the fact in the BW annual report: BW lost £33.3 million pounds on "joint ventures" last year and this rather dwarfs the DEFRA cut.

I completely agree with Victor's observation, "well what did you expect?"

BW management is a basket case, and why in the world should DEFRA throw good money after bad?

Messers Hales and Evans banged on for many years about how they were moving to self sufficiency. They have castigated and bad-mouthed the persistent doubters like me. Unfortunately, and it give me little pleasure in saying so, we were right.

BW were dabbling with fire with their more risky investments and we the people who actually pay for the waterways will now be bearing the burden for many years to come. Us and the BW staff who are currently being restructrured.

I'm quite clear that its time to say the "un-say-able". Tony Hales and Robins Evans should be sacked. Their plan for self sufficiency has failed in the most dramatic terms and I challenge DEFRA to finally grab the nettle and do the right thing.

It's time for wholesale reform of the BW Board and Directors because the current leadership are not the people who will get BW out of this mess. They are the people who got us there in the first place.

1 comment:

  1. Are user groups in denial? BW has gambled and lost almost a quarter of a million pounds in risky business initiatives at the expense of maintaining the system.

    We can not wait until 2020 for change. Change can only happen if directors who have interests of the public at heart are appointed now!