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Issue 334 - August 1999

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BW Membership Scheme Consultation

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British Waterways launched the much heralded consultation for their 'membership scheme' and a separate waterways trust at a well attended presentation at London Zoo on June 17th. That the proposals have the clear support of Government was testified in a speech, made by a senior civil servant, in the absence of and on behalf of the Waterways Minister, Alan Meale MP.

A 20 page glossy brochure detailing the proposed 'membership scheme' and charitable trust is widely available from BW. Copies can be obtained by post from BW's Watford Head Office on 01923 201115.

BW say they have identified three major themes that they believe will capture the imagination of "the millions of people who care about and value the nation's environment and heritage":

To capture this interest, BW propose to establish a membership scheme open to all members of the public and voluntary organisations with an interest in the waterways.

BW claim that the new membership scheme, if successful, would "enhance British Waterways' performance, increase accountability by enabling it to develop a more direct relationship with a wider spectrum of the public using its waterways, and provide increased support for, and involvement in, the waterways."

BW recognise, however, that a 'membership scheme' alone would not realise all the objectives to which they aspire, and that a separate charitable trust would offer "financial advantages which could make an important contribution to sustaining, and indeed enhancing, much of the recent impetus towards restoration of derelict waterways and their environs."

BW envisage that members of the public would be able to 'join' BW as "individuals (junior/adult) or families, with subscriptions payable on an annual or life basis. Existing waterway related organisations would be invited to affiliate to the membership scheme, which would entitle their members to a discount on individual membership. There could also be provision for corporate members, allowing companies who wished to support the waterways to become involved."

BW envisage the following benefits to be available to 'members':

BW's document also suggests that "the membership scheme might also, if it attracted sufficient members, provide a vehicle for nominating a member to the Board of British Waterways. For example, once the scheme reached 100,000 members, they might be invited to elect one of their number, who would be nominated to the Secretary of State as a potential member of the Board."

The objects of the proposed charitable trust would be:

These appear very similar to IWA's own objectives!

BW envisage that "such a trust would take responsibility for projects, particularly of an educational, heritage or environmental nature, where a charitable vehicle separate from British Waterways would be useful for involving other stakeholders, raising funds and providing a degree of independence." The trust would, however, effectively be controlled by BW nominees.

BW suggest that "where it would provide substantial benefit (e.g. to achieve restoration or secure the future of a waterway), the trust could acquire a waterway not managed by British Waterways, or hold it on a long term lease in the case of a waterway managed by British Waterways."

The remit of the trust could extend to all waterways, not just those in BW's present areas and ownership. The trust would not have its own membership scheme, but might look to 'members' under BW's scheme to provide support. It is not clear whether an entirely new trust would be set up, or whether the existing waterways museum trust would be expanded in its range of activities. Its current remit is very widely drawn and it may assist with funding for the Anderton Boat Lift and Millennium Link restorations.

The trust concept is well established as a vehicle for managing heritage and environmental organisations, and for fund-raising. Many of IWA's corporate members are charitable trusts set up to promote the restoration of waterways. Also, many local authorities have created associated trusts to manage and raise funds for functions such as museums, parks and leisure operations

As part of the launch of BW's proposals, a new web-site has been introduced: http://www.waterwaypartners.co.uk which gives further detail to BW's intentions and provides an option for instant comment to BW. In addition, there are to be a series of Regional Forums around the country, each giving a full presentation from BW staff [those in August]:

5th August Birmingham
6th August Gloucester
10th August Leeds
12th August Nottingham
19th August London

IWA's Council will be considering BW's proposals at its July and September Council meetings, but in the meantime, Branch and Region officers are encouraged to attend BW's regional presentations and to then make their views known to Council rather than to BW direct.

IWA Head Office Bulletin - July 1999

Perhaps SCS members could also inform IWA HQ (PO Box 114, Rickmansworth,WD3 1ZY) of their views on these proposals. The effect of such a trust could be to bring about far reaching changes to the waterway scene.


July Meeting

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Neil Kearns of the Eastleigh Railway Preservation Society was our speaker and we learned that the restoration of railway engines is just as difficult and, if anything, a more dirty job than restoring canals.

He showed us slides covering the arrival at Eastleigh of the Southern Railway locomotive 828 from the scrap yard, right through its restoration stages to gleaming machine on its early tests and train pulling trips. A cold, heavy and dirty task, the work was either completed in the open air or in draughty makeshift shelters. The engine was later named 'Harry Frith' after the prime mover and chief engineer on the project. Although a bit technical for some members, we learned a lot about engine restoration and design and also about the running of railways.

Being in the right place, at the right time, in the right weather to photograph the engines out on the move seemed to be an art in itself.

With main line railways becoming busier and modern trains getting faster, Neil Kearns predicts that main line steam trips will soon be a thing of the past. But at least we will still be able to visit these beautiful machines working on preserved lines dedicated to steam.

His talk ended with pictures of the arrival at Eastleigh of 'Lord Nelson', from York, which is at present being restored by the Society. 828 is now working on the Swanage Railway.


Society Sweatshirts

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Last month there were a couple of pieces about Society sweatshirts. Just to jog your memory in case you wanted to order:

The stock of 30th Anniversary sweatshirts from 1997 is almost depleted and it has been decided to make one last, final order. This will have to be based upon actual orders made by Society members through the Sales Stand or by contacting Paul Herbert on 01703 262365. So ... if you haven't got one of these sweatshirts or if you need a spare, contact Paul without delay.

It was also announced that the Committee were considering a new design of sweatshirt to celebrate the Millenium. Are you interested in this idea and would you be interested in purchasing a special (limited edition) Society souvenir? If so, please let Paul or Ray on the Sales Stand know, or ring Paul on the above number.


Thanks

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A sincere thank you to those members who have recently donated prizes to the raffle.


Society Newsletter

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As your editor will be on holiday (including a visit to the National Waterways Festival at Worcester) at the end of August and beginning of September, there will be no September issue of the Newsletter this year.

Hope to see lots of you at Worcester!!


Society Web-site

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The Society web-site on the Internet has continued to attract visits (nearly one a day) during July. Thanks to Chris Williams for your kind comments. Those with access to the Internet, have a look at our site for yourself at:

www.sturrock-oates.demon.co.uk/scs/scs.htm   [NB: this address is now obsolete]


Subscriptions

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This is a further reminder to members that subscriptions to the Society for the year 1999-2000 became due at the AGM in June. Subscriptions remain at: Single £6.00 and £9.00 for the Family rate.


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Proposed Society Trip for the Millennium

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In last month's newsletter, there was a note about the possibility of a Society outing being organised next year.

In response to that, your editor received an email with suggestions about such a trip:

Ref: Millenium Trip

Perhaps to the Wey & Arun, as most of the other local canals are accessible by members of the public throughout their length, whereas the Wey & Arun provides 'in-water' sections with trip boat access, as well as sections under restoration, some closed to the general public.

If there is not enough for a day trip to the Wey & Arun, perhaps could be combined with a trip on the Wey.

( Many thanks for the organisation for the Romsey Walk / Signal Box visit )

Chris Williams

Seems like a good idea - but has anyone any other ideas? Even if you agree with Chris' ideas, let your Committee know so they can plan a trip that members will want to go on in Millennium year.

When more information is to hand, including likely dates and costings etc, details will be published in a future newsletter.


30th Anniversary Sweatshirts

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The Sales Stand's stock of the special sweatshirts produced to celebrate the Society's 30th Anniversary in 1997 is almost exhausted. However, the occasional enquiry is still received for one of these attractive sweatshirts so it has been decided to place one last and final order. Just to remind you, the shirts are light grey with a multi-coloured Society logo and the legend 30th Anniversary, 1967 & 1997, on the breast. The order to be placed will have to be based upon actual orders made by Society members through the Sales Stand or by contacting Paul Herbert on 01703 262365. So ... if you haven't got one of these sweatshirts or if you need a spare, contact Paul without delay.


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