The transfer of responsibility for England and Wales' waterways from British Waterways to the Canal and River Trust is official with the former now ceasing to exist.
The Canal and River Trust soft-launched yesterday with the opening of a preview of its new website, which will be fully launched on 12 July. A full public launch of the charity, with a number of regional celebrations will take place on the same date.
The shift of responsibility from former quango British Waterways to the Trust is the largest transfer of a public body into the charity sector. The Trust is now responsible for 2,000 miles of canals, rivers, reservoirs and docks in England and Wales, ensuring they are accessible and safe, and creating a financially sustainable future for the waterways. This was kick-started in January when the government announced a £1bn funding deal over 15 years to help sustain the charity, including a core grant of £39m per year and an initial grant of £25m to be spent over the coming months.
"Today [2 July 2012] a new charity, the Canal and River Trust has been born. In an increasingly fast-paced and hectic world, our wonderful canals and rivers in England and Wales remind us of a time gone by and give us a unique place to reconnect with people, nature and history and we're here to protect them," the Trust said in a thank you statement on its website.
Governance and support
The Trust retains a number of British Waterways' directors including chief executive Robin Evans, who joined the public body in 1999, becoming its chief executive in 2002. He is responsible for the Trust's 1,600 staff. The charity has a trustee board of ten members, led by chairman Tony Hales. It also has a Coucil of 35 elected and nominated members responsible for shaping policy decisions made by the board, providing guidance and appointing and dismissing board members. The Trust is supported by seven different advisory boards providing advice on matters such as volunteering and the environment.
Since registering with the Charity Commission on 4 April this year the charity has garnered a number of commercial backers, including Google, which is to add UK towpaths to Google Maps to encourage the use of the waterways.