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Issue 409 - January 2007

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Chairman's Column

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Happy New Year

We are not always able to publish a January Newsletter because of the Christmas and New Year 'shut-down' when regular contributors, editor and printer are often away (or recovering!). However, we have all pulled out the stops this year in order to publish this first Newsletter of 2007.

It gives me great pleasure to send all our members my best wishes for the New Year.

A photographer

January Meeting

This month we are holding our popular annual Members' Photographic Evening and Competition, full details of which were published in the last Newsletter.

Our 2007 Programme

This year the Society will, of course, be celebrating its 40th anniversary, and we are close to finalising our monthly programme of speakers and other events.

Next month we will be welcoming Neil Arlidge to tell us about the cruising adventures of the 'Tuesday Night Club'. In March our own members, Ron and Myra Glover, will be giving us one of their regular presentations, this time about their cruises on the rivers of Southern Germany. The following month Peter Boyce will be talking to us about 'The Moving Meadow' (a section of our landscape going for a cruise) and his restoration work on his narrow boat tug 'The James Loader'. Roger Squires will be visiting us the following meeting (actual programme topic to be advised). It is currently proposed that our 40th AGM will be held at the end of July. The ever-popular 'Day Star Theatre' will be returning to Chilworth in October, after a few years break, to present a special compilation programme. Then, in December, we will again be hosting the Inter-Society Waterways Quiz.

Other events are being organised to celebrate our anniversary, including the following.

Skittles Evening


Our member Rogan Olding has organised a Society Skittles Evening on Friday 9 March 2007. Full details are in this Newsletter. Please note that the charge of £10 per person is to cover the hire of the skittle alley, food, and prize for the winner. This has always been a very popular Society event on previous occasions and numbers are limited to around 30 - so get your bookings in to Rogan as soon as possible. First come - first served!

Spring Outing

Members will recall that our proposed trip on the Wey & Arun Canal in October had to be cancelled due to water shortage in that waterway. Organiser, Maureen Greenham, will be re-organising the event during the spring - the new date and full details will be published in a future Newsletter.

Society 40th Anniversary Clothing

It is proposed to arrange for the supply of special sweat shirts and tee shirts etc to mark our 40th anniversary. Further details will be included in the next Newsletter.

Paul Herbert

December Meeting

Annual Inter-Society Waterways Quiz and American Supper

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The annual Inter-Society Waterways Quiz is always a popular evening as the teams fight it out, in very good humour, for the winner's trophy.

On this occasion the 'usual teams' of Southampton Canal Society, IWA Salisbury Group and IWA Solent & Arun Branch were joined by the team from the Chichester Ship Canal Trust, who were warmly welcomed. The very first quiz was hosted by the Chichester Canal Society way back in 1993. This time the Quizmaster was Chris Davey who had set several rounds of really challenging questions, but managed to maintain control at all times. Chris had experienced IT problems that morning preventing him from displaying slides to accompany his questions; however that certainly didn't detract from his 'performance'.

The quiz winners were the holding champions, Southampton Canal Society, comprising Laura Sturrock, Peter Oates, Alan Rose and Rogan Olding (who had stepped in to fill a vacancy at the last minute) - congratulations to them. Runners up were the IWA Solent & Arun Group. The trophy was presented to Southampton Team Captain, Peter Oates, (again) but the other teams will be pleased to note that Peter has agreed to be Quizmaster at the 2007 Quiz which will take him out of the running as part of our own team on that occasion.

What's the answer?

Chris had also set the audience special questions and the winner was Sue Lewis, who was presented with a bottle of wine. Congratulations Sue.

Many thanks to our Quizmaster, Chris, who was presented with a gift token, and to all the members of the teams who took part.

The 2007 Inter-Society Waterways Quiz will be organised by our Society and will be held at Chilworth on Thursday 6 December.

During the evening I was able to fulfil a very pleasant task. The Committee had agreed that we should present a bottle of wine to all those Society members who had given us talks during the year and it was my pleasure to be able to make those presentations, thanking them for their valuable contribution to the Society's programme.

After the auction we all enjoyed the traditional American Supper which, as always, was generously provided by Society members. There was plenty of food which was all delicious. Many thanks to all those who provided the food and to all those helpers who assisted with the layout of both halls, worked in the kitchen and cleared away at the end of the evening.

Paul Herbert

Save our Waterways

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Waterway Grants for 2007-08

Late in the afternoon of 22nd December (the last working day before Christmas), the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) announced its budget allocations of funding for 2007-08 for its sponsored bodies and executive agencies, which includes British Waterways and the Environment Agency. The figure for British Waterways is £57.55 million, which excludes the grant made by the Scottish Executive for waterways in Scotland, but includes £2.048m for the repayment of a loan from the National Loans Fund (for upgrade of the Sheffield & South Yorkshire Navigation), which was agreed under 'Waterways for Tomorrow' six years ago. The net figure for comparison is therefore £55.5 million, which is similar to 2006-07, after the cuts in funding were made and with no allowance for inflation. BW's original budget for 2006-07 was £62.5 million.

In a press release issued on 23rd December, John Fletcher, IWA national chairman, said, "Clearly the government is not proud of this settlement for British Waterways for the next financial year, which we understand was decided a little while ago - otherwise it would never have attempted to bury it under the last-minute Christmas shopping. However, the Department's strategy could backfire, as IWA is making special efforts to let many of its active members know the gloomy news straight away, so that they will have the whole Christmas holidays to be busy writing letters to their MPs, for when the parliamentarians get back to the House of Commons in the New Year."

The total funding for the Environment Agency in 2007-08 is to be £661million, of which the navigation budget is a small amount which is yet to be decided internally by the Agency. DEFRA's full announcement is available at:

The IWA has written to the Waterways Minister, Barry Gardiner MP, to express its concern at the miserly funding allocation for BW. IWA has challenged the Minister as to why he chose not to reinstate the cuts to BW's grant-in-aid after he had led people to believe that he would.

IWA is particularly disappointed at the apparent variance between the announcement and the minister's statement in a radio interview earlier in 2006. In an interview with Jane Garvey on BBC Radio 5 Live on 12th October 2006, in answer to a question about BW's redundancies, the minister clearly stated that the budget reductions were "one-off cuts that have been made this year." IWA has an audio tape of the broadcast and the words are quite clear.

John Fletcher said: "I have had to write to the Minister to ask why he has quite clearly indicated that the budget cuts were 'one-off' and now by his actions he is demonstrating that he never intended this at all. At best, the minister has completely misled everyone, whether intentionally or not. But the really important point is that the funding settlement for 2007 to 2008 is simply not sufficient for BW to gain the full benefits available for waterway regeneration. In DEFRA's overall budget terms, the grant cuts are tiny, but they make such a difference to what BW can achieve - so we cannot understand why the Department has got it so badly wrong yet again."

Other News

Where do we go from here?

We must keep the pressure up on the Government. DEFRA is well aware now it won't be able to hide, but will it survive as a department after Tony Blair goes? This all begs a number of questions which are worth discussing with your MP, maybe face to face at a surgery:-

Get your MP to approach Number 11 - it might pay double dividends, it holds the purse strings and maybe the new PM?

Various demonstrations are still planned - for the latest details see

A flotilla of boats is being organized past the Houses of Parliament on the 16th of January. Further details from Andrew Phasey on 07850753633 email:

Presentation of a written petition to Westminster by road is also planned, so SOW petition forms need to be signed and returned.

Information from IWA Press Releases and NABO News December 2006

Itchen Update

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Peter Boyce writes: The Itchen Navigation Project was allocated £1.6m by the Heritage Lottery Fund in May for a one year development phase. Project management staff at the Hampshire Wildlife Trust at Botley have been recruited, and the engineering company Atkins have been chosen to carry out the development and construction work. Flora and fauna surveys have been carried out and will be part of any engineering work.

I attended an on-site visit to the Winchester end of the Navigation on the 19 October. We studied the pound between the terminus wharf and St Catherine's Lock. Two projects will need our input here: some preventative maintenance of Black Bridge, and major restoration of St Catherine's Lock chamber. This turf sided lock is the summit lock of the navigation and is at present covered in tree growth, with sections of brickwork needing rebuilding once the trees have been removed by contractors. Detailed planning of the work is now going ahead, and will start in earnest in the winter of 2007/8.

IWA Cargoes - Winter 2006


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Sweet & Sour Chicken
Vegetarian Option

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Tel: 02380 263660

Basingstoke Canal - Review Report endorsed

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The results of inadequate funding of a man-made canal navigation are finally becoming clear to the two County Councils who are freeholders of this canal on behalf of the public. Faced with the reality of basically zero capital investment over the last decade, various "bright" ideas emerged to avoid expenditure, such as "Can't we get BW to take over the canal?"; "Can't we abandon part of the canal, eg Deepcut flight, to save money?"

To their credit, the officers of the County Councils set up project teams to consider three options for the future of the canal, these were:

Option 1: Unchanged Management - Cutting the level of service - Formalise the funding agreement

Option 2: Management by a third party - British Waterways - National Trust - Set up independent body, such as a charitable trust or a Regional Park Authority

Option 3: Stop or limit use of the Canal - Retain water but stop through boat movements.

The recommendations of the Project Teams were placed before members of the Joint Management Committee at their meeting on 20th October and accepted by them. Thus it was agreed that there should be a formal funding agreement and that in the meantime the possibilities of outsourcing to a private company or the creation of a Charitable Trust should be considered further (neither BW nor the National Trust were interested in taking over the waterway).

It was accepted that in order to implement such options, the canal would need to be put in a good state of repair and a crucial recommendation was that the County Councils should commission a Condition Survey for the Canal. One practical factor that could limit the scope for change was the question of insurance and this had yet to be resolved.

Two conclusive recommendations were that the possibility of converting the Canal into a Regional Park Authority should be discounted and the option of closing the canal to through navigation should not be pursued further at this time.

Clearly a lot of effort went into examining the options in depth and the production of such a comprehensive report. Councillors should now be in no doubt about the importance of finding a long-term solution to the funding of the canal both as regards its day-to-day administration and its ongoing maintenance.

IWA Cargoes - Winter 2006

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