(In my book it's the also increasingly looking like the dying throes of a failed BW senior management who have led BW to the edge of oblivion, and are now desperately scrabbling around for a way out.)
The real question for me remains the question I first raised at the BW AGM, back in the Autumn. "The fear is, as was mentioned, this doesn’t address your £30m a year funding gap."
Allan Richards is more blunt on the point than me in in his article in Narrowboatworld this week. Allan's started from a slightly different angle but one I recognise very well: from puzzlement at the apparent love affair with the BW property portfolio?
He, correctly in my view makes, the point that BW's property portfolio remains the problem, not the solution. He then accuses:
- BW of being misleading about how much income it will actually generate from its property portfolio over the coming years,
- and the Inland Waterways Association of falling for it.
What do we do in the intervening years, while we wait for the catch up? It seems we may find out soon!
Perhaps by no coincidence, I found independent confirmation that any catch up in BW's commercial income will not be forthcoming any time soon. Quite the opposite. It seems likely to be another year of loses in BW's commercial portfolio.
Who says so? - Why the BW Board!
Recent BW Board papers, (minute 10/006 in British Waterways Board Minutes – 28 January 2010) predicted the following outcome for BW's "trading results" for the current year: "The deficit for the year [i.e. 2009/10] was expected to be in the region £12-14 million."
More interesting still was the subsequent Board minute (10/007):
"It was agreed that the move to the third sector was totally predicated on the property endowment remaining with the waterways and this point was understood by many of the supporters of the third sector move. Thus, whilst momentum for the idea was building, the Board would have to withdraw the proposal if the ‘new’ BW was not allowed to keep the property endowment."
(No wonder BW are so p'd off by those of us who cast doubt on the wisdom of keeping the property portfolio!)
To my suspicious mind the quote above from the Board minutes suggests that the the Third Sector proposals might be more about BW finding excuses to keep hold of the property portfolio than about whether that is a financially sound thing to do.
Either way, would someone please explain? (Yes, I have asked BW!)