Sunday, 18 July 2010

Spending our money on Spin

This week BW have been heralding how they have 'invested' half a million pound in new pontoons in Liverpool. Good news for boaters?

Of course as Victor on Narrowboat World has so accurately pointed out, getting to take your boat there to take advantage of the new moorings may prove a problem!

I won't attempt to repeat what is said in Victor's article because that sums up the situation very well for me - please read it. This also looks to me like half a million pounds worth of PR for something that will be precious little use to most boaters, another white elephant.

The canal network is falling apart and having essential maintenance cut back but apparently it's OK for BW to divert half a million pounds to this? This story just confirms my view that BW is led by incompetents who are more worried about their public image that about actually making maintenance of the navigation their first priority. They have proved themselves again incapable of spending public money wisely or where it is really needed, instead favouring seeking some positive press coverage based on complete spin.

I say this is typical of the spin that BW produce to try to hide the fact that the waterways network they manage is in fact deteriorating fast largely because of their failed model of reliance on their precious property portfolio. Their property portfolio has in fact again this year sucked money out of the waterways and the only reason BW is still solvent is that they have again had to sell off more commercial assets to keep afloat. (Same as last year.)

And don't be fooled by the headline salary freeze for BW Directors and them waiving their bonuses. They seem to have pulled an old stunt on us: Robins Evans' annual pension entitlement last year was increased by £6000 a year thanks to an increase in his pension fund of in excess of £300 000! Where did all that increase in value come from when the rest of the world is struggling to maintain its investments at anything better than a a few percenatage points increase? (See pp 46 and 47 of 94 in the new Annual Report).

It seems that while junior staff and boaters are seeing wages and benefits frozen and fees going up respectively, the BW Board are content to let the Directors boost their pension funds by hundreds of thousands of pounds in the background?

I hope politicians and DEFRA officials, as they consider the future of BW, and realise that BW customers and the public as a whole are being ripped off here by a bunch of incompetent managers who seem to nonetheless to be able to persuade the BW Board to continue to feather their personal nests out of immediate public view.

No comments:

Post a Comment