Pennine Waterways News

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Online Petition Gathers Pace

On online petition on the Downing Street website is gathering momentum among waterway supporters.

The petition reads: "We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to protect our canals by not selling off property owned by British Waterways."

Petition creator Ian Rees added these statements in support of the petition: "Further to recent announcements concerning the potential sell-off of properties owned by British Waterways by the Treasury, we petition the Prime Minister to give assurances that our canals will be protected and recent levels of investment, a credit to Labour, is maintained.
"Our canals are great source of pleasure for many people in the country, providing a source of employment through tourism and associated businesses. They're also home to many forms of wildlife. Without proper management this will ebb away and the network return to a state of decay and ruin.
"We urge the Government to allow British Waterways to retain its property portfolio, protecting its essential source of revenue and ensure the sustainability of its work."

The petition follows an item on BBC TV's The Politics Show speculating that BW's property portfolio could be sold off to help plug the Government's financial deficit.

BW responded by pointing out that the Government had decided earlier in the year, following a Treasury-led review, that British Waterways' 1,400 canalside properties should not be sold, although it acknowledged that things could change.

Save Our Waterways commented: "It would be a very short-sighted decision if the government were to sell off BW's property portfolio. Not only would the amount raised not be great in a recession, but it would deprive BW of a vital source of income, meaning that the government would have to pump additional money into BW in the future just to maintain the system at a basic level."

The story about the possible sell-off spread alarm amongst waterway users, despite BW's reassurances, resulting in the online petition.

The petition came to the notice of the Inland Waterways Association who have indicated that they support the statements in the petition and have been encouraging people to add their names.

Some people are doubtful about the effectiveness of petitions, but the IWA points out: "The worst outcome now that this is in the public domain, would be if this petition receives scant support. That might give Ministers the impression that there are few waterways supporters who care very much about the issue. On the other hand, if it is well supported, the Government, this close to an election, is very sensitive to actions it might take which may lose votes."

The petition has picked up 5,000 names in just a few days. Please look at the petition by following this link and, if you agree with it, add your own name.

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