Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Paddington Business Barges confirmed as a White Elephant

My friend Allan Richards has through his persistent public questioning of BW proved what most of us locally thought was the case: The business barges BW installed in Paddington Basin are a financial failure. It did not take a genius in property investment to work out that trying to market these barges as workspaces adjacent to one of the biggest office space developments in West London was going to be a challenge, whatever the economic climate.

The signs of course were apparent a year ago.

The answer to Allan's latest FOI request demonstrates that over the last eight years the project has made no return.

Yes, I/m going to get all self righteous about this one and say, I told you so!

BW poo-poo-ed suggestions from local boaters like me that the space would be much more productive as customer moorings. A mixture of visitors moorings and income generating long term moorings offered as pied a terre London berths, in Zone One adjacent to Paddington station and twenty minutes walk from Oxford Street....  would have been more in keeping, a simple earner, no risk and the boaters will even bring their own boats! It will take some pressure off other visitor moorings in the area.

If you wanted to get really radical  include a temporary freight wharf to encourage the huge construction projects all around the basin to take their waste away by water to the ready and waiting (and mostly idle) Powerday Wharf at Willesden. Construction traffic is a huge issue in the community and people would be grateful for ever lorry you can take off the local roads.

No, no, no.

Instead BW lured the planners into a nonsensical project against the wishes of many in the local community. They have subsequently made a planning application for even more Business Barges at the other end of the basin from where the existing three oops, two barges are located, quoting the success of the initial three barges as justifying even more! Perhaps on these figures we can now see, even BW will finally admit that this is maybe not a viable idea!

As a result precious waterspace has been used as an elephant pond for nearly a decade and BW has not even managed to make any money out of the whole thing.

Of course my plan would involve acknowledging the shortage of long term moorings in London and doing something positive about improving facilities for boating customers. BW it seems would rather speculate on the local market and lose, than do this!

They poo-poo-ed me for  suggesting publicly that BW were engaged in uncertain speculating where it was unclear what the returns would be, (points C and D on p146ff here). Again time and patience has proved that I was right. Of course the FOI response Allan has got (see fig A2 therein) shows that many of  BW's joint ventures have been bare of profit for some time.

A problem with BW is they do not see people like me as offering constructive criticism and believe it or not that is what we try to do. The third sector thing is not going to work if you will not listen and acknowledge that even if our looks are against some us we have other skills and knowledge to bring to the table, for free and gratis, if you'll let us?

No, no, no.

That's not going to happen with the current management team at BW in situ, who are in my view an arrogant, patronising bunch of parasites, in a state of long term denial, who continue saying "we know best" when the evidence is quite to the contrary. The business barges in Paddington are a good example of this, close to my heart.

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