Waterway Partnerships cost £800,000 a year and failed to raise ANY cash

March 2018 - C&RT’s reorganisation grinds on. It appears to be aimed at shedding senior managers by decentralising many of the functions centralised by Chief Executive, Richard Parry, just a few years ago. Evidently, the Trust is trying a ‘new broom’ approach, with the old broom still in charge. Allan Richards delves deeper into one of the reasons for reorganisation - Waterways Partnerships failure to attract funding.

Ten Waterways Managers will be replaced by six Regional Directors (What will become of the Waterways Managers?) and ten Waterway Partnerships chairs replaced with six Regional Advisory Board Chairs (Regional Advisory Boards replace Waterway Partnerships). At the same time, the Trust intends to rebrand itself replacing its ‘swan sanctuary’ logo with a new one - at a cost of £2 million, if disgruntled staff are to be believed.

A month ago, The Floater reported that a serious complaint had been made to the Information Commissioner (Complaint to Information Commissioner over fake document as C&RT blames junior member of staff), which could potentially result in court action against the Trust and one or more of its employees. That complaint has been fast-tracked, with a senior case officer now awaiting a response from the Trust before deciding how to proceed.

The information request that led to the complaint also asked for financial information relating to Eat Midlands Waterway Partnership Three Year Action Plan. This was because C&RT’s Trustees were informed:

’Partnerships are working on the assumption that they will have to secure funding for projects in their Action Plans. With local knowledge and contacts they may be able to forge new partnerships and secure significant grants to fund their projects. However, the Trust may choose to provide match funding for strategic initiatives on a project-by-project basis. Work is in hand to establish the costs of the Action Plans at a macro level, for the guidance of Trustees, and indicative funding sources. These estimates will be part of the SWP [i.e. the ten year Stategic Waterway Plan].’

Based on that, C&RT were asked to provide details of funding secured by East Midlands Waterways Partnership for Action Plan projects, match funding provided by C&RT and any other funds provided by the Trust.

C&RT’s initial response was that the East Midlands Partnership had secured no funding itself over three years but that it had provided the £189,000 of match funding over the three years of the plan. Fairly obviously, if East Midlands WP had secured no funding for Action Plan Projects then C&RT could not match fund this with £189,000!

C&RT eventually admitted, that the £189,000 was not match funding but was 'other funding' provided to the Partnership to carry out its activities. Furthermore, these activities were not necessarily linked to to the Partnership's Three Year Action Plan published in 2014.

Other requests, have now resulted in figures for all Waterways Partnerships being provided, and they make disturbing reading: -

The bottom line is that Waterways Partnerships, which should be largely self funding, have failed to raise a single penny over the last three years. Thus no match funding has been provided. C&RT has given Waterways Partnerships funds at a rate of about £800,000 per year (or, if you prefer, an average of £80,000 per Partnership per year).

Worse still, the majority of this funding provided appears to be unrelated to Three Year Action Plans, some of which the Trust says it no longer holds.

A bizzare outcome of this fiasco is that that two of those responsible for telling the board that Waterways Partnerships would become largely self funding, have been promoted. Head of Planning, Heather Clarke was later given a directorship and more recently additional responsibilities as Strategy, Impact & Engagement Director.

Head of Enterprise, Julie Sharman, was also given a directorship. More recently she has been appointed Chief Operating Officer and is masterminding the reversal of Richard Parry's centralisation policies of 2014.

With six Regional Advisory Boards now set to replace the Waterway Partnerships in the next month or two, one is left wondering if they will still be expected to raise funds.

Perhaps the word 'advisory' gives us a clue ...

Photos: (1st) The underfunding of all Waterways Partnerships, (2nd) Richard Parry - now trying to be his own 'new broom' as he reverses his policies, (3rd) Heather Clarke - promoted despite failure, (4th) Julie Sharman - promoted despite failure.

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