In April 2012, the Government plan to move British Waterways from the public sector to civil society, through the creation of a new waterways charity. This will give waterways users and the communities that live alongside them greater involvement in how waterways are managed, leading to a range of enhanced public benefits. It will also place the waterways on a more sustainable footing, as the charity will have access to new sources of commercial and charitable income.
We have more than 2,000 miles of rivers and inland waterways, including the Grand Union canal in Brentford in my constituency. Does my hon. Friend agree that the announcement of the proposed merger between the Waterways Trust and the new waterways charity will provide a good opportunity to boost the value of those national assets?
I am delighted to welcome the announcement of the merger that my hon. Friend describes. It will allow the cultural and heritage purposes of the new waterways charity to be fundamentally linked with all the other benefits arising from creating the new entity. The three museums that the waterways charity now owns will become part of the new charity, and will be a fantastic resource for it in future.