British Waterways (BW) will keep hold of its property portfolio while the Government assesses the future of funding for the navigation authority, including looking into third-sector status

British Waterways (BW) will retain control of its property portfolio while the Government considers alternative structures for the navigation authority.

The Government published its Operational Efficiency Programme: Asset Portfolio document yesterday, ahead of tomorrow’s Pre-Budget Report. The report concludes that there is no financial case to sell-off the property assets, which BW will continue to manage while other funding options are considered.

The report states: “This process is being taken forward by BW in consultation with HM Treasury, the Shareholder Executive and DEFRA. However, the Government recognises that there may be benefits in considering alternative structures for BW’s business as a whole, including its property portfolio. We will therefore consider alternative models for the business as a whole, such as mutual or third-sector structures. As part of any such future structure for BW, therefore, there may be opportunities for the private sector to invest in the portfolio.”

In response to the report, BW chairman, Tony Hales, said, “We are pleased that the Government wishes to explore with us the benefits of a third-sector approach to the waterways. We need long-term security for the future of the historic network and believe third-sector status, together with our property endowment provides the basis for that security.”

There had been growing speculation that the government was about to announce the sell-off of at least some BW properties in tomorrow’s Pre-Budget Report.

To view the full Operational Efficiency Programme: Asset Portfolio document click here.