Monday, 30 November 2009

BW retaining its Property Portfolio - what price?

In its latest news bulletin for Dec, IWA puts a slightly new narrative on recent events:

BW Sale of Assets.

The IWA Campaigns team are very active on this subject at the moment and have orchestrated a political lobby in both the Commons and latterly the Lords to pressurise government – (who still haven’t yet indicated if the sale is to go ahead) - to drop any ideas surrounding a possible sale. The aim is to get them to back down in private – rather than make them entrench and publicly come out and declare this as an intention.

No mention of the fact that my sources claim that it was BW who asked people to orchestrate this!

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Double edged sword

I told you so - my first instinct is simply to wipe BW's face in it.

And why not - BW have spent the years since I said this in public vilifying me (and many others) who had had the cheek to offer warning noises about the BW property portfolio. We are the nay-sayers, the trouble makers, the BW bashers etc.

Well some of us saw this coming and even warned BW to be careful. When they didn't listen we warned everyone else. The trouble is that some of us were making these noises off long before the select committee got into its stride and I believe that the 'major breach' represented by BW's losses reported for last year had started to weep already.

Some say that the former Waterways Minister Barry Gardner lost his job because he had the temerity to doubt that BW were being transparent with him. No I'm getting too paranoid and conspiratorial...? Stop!

British Waterways stripped of it's property portfolio? - would that be such a bad thing?

Back again. It's been a busy time on the BW front. More will be revealed over the next few posts I hope! So to story number one! This week has seen a flurry of press and political activity attempting to defend BW's property portfolio.

The origins of this story are rather interesting. What I have been told for sure is that certain very senior BW people arrived unexpected during the recent six monthly BWAF meeting with national user group representatives. In a state of high agitation, doing a desperate breathless in distress performance that would make Betty Paige blush, they announced that they believed the Treasury was again actively looking at stripping BW of it's property portfolio.

As a result off went everyone screaming blue murder. Leading the charge was IWA. Waterways MP's have since taken up the cry and a motion has been put down and a debate called for. A good and proper storm has brewed up.

Voices off like me have taken a slightly different starting point...

(Original version published in the Narrowboatworld forum)

Should BW keep its property portfolio?

BW's property portfolio is indeed a double edged sword that has turned on BW. (Or is it case that the wielder of the sword does not know how to handle it properly?)

As has been pointed out, the property portfolio sucked the best part of £80 million out of BW last financial year and there will doubtless be more bad news to come on that front when we get this year's results?

A BW with no property portfolio would also (heaven forbid!) have to spend all its time and energy focusing on the immediate well being and funding of the waterways, without the delusion that the property will always bail them out!

Poor BW! They would also have to change their business ethos towards being a full time navigation authority instead of distracting huge amounts of time energy and OUR resources into being property developers. Mr Evans and the Directors would of course no longer have all their present responsibilities, so their salaries and posts would have to be restructured to reflect this.

No wonder they are screaming blue murder!

The well-being of BW's fat cat directors is not the same as the well-being of the BW network and if they were purged from BW at the same time as the property portfolio that might not be a bad thing?

It would of course also throw the whole question of public funding of the waterways into sharp relief as the property portfolio would no longer be there providing 'cover' for wider government underfunding of BW.

Would such an outcome be a disaster or a real opportunity?

Monday, 2 November 2009

BW's 'secret' war against residential boaters

Just saw the latest post on the K and A boaters' website entitled Psychological Warfare on the Kennet and Avon Canal.

Well done to the author of that one. The view that BW is engaged in a covert war of attrition against residential boaters sits at the heart of my personal opposition to BW and so many of its works! I simply reflect on the dozens of friends I have made over the years who have succumbed to the pressure and given up living afloat. (Maybe they were actually the wise ones?)

In particular I completely agree with the sentiment: BW’s aim is break our resolve to live within the rules laid down by law and either be ‘bullied’ into paying for unwanted moorings or to simply disappear (?)

BW Moorings Consultation launched

I case you haven't heard yet, the long awaited national consultation on BW moorings policy has finally been launched. For the full monty see the BW web-site here. The links to the actual consultation documents are on the right hand side of the page.