Chief executive claims staffing cuts are needed to maintain spending on waterways

British Waterways is planning to make approximately 100 of its office staff redundant after conducting a strategic review of its business.

The Government quango, which manages some 2200 miles of canals and rivers, said today the redundancies were necessary to secure the “long-term sustainability” of the waterways in its care.

Other measures include the creation of 11 smaller waterway units designed to create closer links to local communities and the removal of a layer of management.

Together with other planned changes, this should save around £10m a year, BW said, which will be redirected to waterways maintenance.

The ultimate goal, it said, was to sever direct ties with Government and become a ‘third sector’ trust or charity. This ambition is known as BW’s 2020 Vision.

Robin Evans, BW’s chief executive, said: “Despite this turnaround the waterways today still face serious challenges. The global downturn has reduced our ability to earn additional funds for the network, public funding will come under considerable pressure for the foreseeable future and we are already short of the money required to maintain the network properly.

“With this in mind, our absolute priority must be to maintain investment in the waterways and this means reducing spending elsewhere. Our proposed new structure will both redirect important funding to essential maintenance work but also make us much more responsive to customers and partners.”