This article is the second part of a series and is on the governance structure of the new charity. It is my précis of the information given in the DEFRA waterways consultation document:

A New Era for the Waterways

A consultation on the Government’s proposals for

moving inland waterways into a new charity in

England and Wales

It is intended to be an easily understood and remembered account of the 84 page document above. I hope it achieves this purpose,


Credits: The diagram below and much of the text have been taken from the above named document produced by DEFRA.

If you want to read more deeply or comment on this to the originators, DEFRA, visit my other posting British Waterways (BW) move to Charity – Consultation.


So, into the précis…….

The framework for governance is shown below. In addition there will be several COMMITTEES.

Waterways Governance Structure Chart


The COUNCIL is guardian of the long term values and purposes of the charity.

It will appoint the BOARD of TRUSTEES.

The Council will not formally determine policy or strategy.

It will:

  • debate points of strategy or principle and provide guidance to the BOARD  of TRUSTEES
  • raise issues of concern for the BOARD of TRUSTEES to pursue
  • be a reference point and sounding board to help the BOARD of TRUSTEES to develop proposals and policies.

It will consist of 30 to 50 individuals drawn from various National stakeholders, i.e. groups that have an interest in the success of the waterways,

e.g. private boaters, anglers, walkers, boating businesses, environment, built heritage conservation, local government, employees, etc.

It will formally meet twice a year.


This is the governing body of the charity. The Trustees are ultimately legally responsible for directing the affairs of the charity.

Members will be appointed by the Council, with the assistance of the Appointments Committee (see later).

The Trustees will:

  • set policy and strategy and approve business plans
  • appoint the LOCAL PARTNERSHIPS members.

It consists of 8 to 12 members serving 3 years in office retiring in rotation.

They will be unpaid.

The members will appoint a Chair who will sit on the COUNCIL.

It will meet at least 6 times a year with subcommittees covering topics such as audit, remuneration, fundraising and infrastructure meeting as necessary.


A LOCAL PARTNERSHIP will be established for each waterway management area (Region), bringing together the local management of the waterways with wider regional stakeholders to advise, assist and critically support local management.

The Partnership would have between 8 and 12 members including the relevant Waterway Manager. The process for appointing members is not yet detailed but the appointments would be formally endorsed by the Trustees.

The duty of all members of the Partnership would be to act in the best interests of the waterway rather than to represent any particular interests or causes. All members would be local, credible and knowledgeable in their area of expertise.

The Partnership would decide if it wanted to establish any permanent or time-limited subcommittees, to consider specific cross-cutting (requiring integration of differing aspects) issues.


There will need to be a number of specialist committees or sub-committees within the governance structure at a national level. Some of these may be committees of the Council, some of the Board of Trustees, and some joint committees.

Appointments Committee This is to be a joint committee of the Council and the Board of Trustees. It will:

  • identify appropriate stakeholder bodies or groups that will be invited to nominate persons to serve as members of THE COUNCIL.
  • identify and recommend persons to co-opt to THE COUNCIL in order to promote a suitable balance of knowledge, experience, and representative qualities
  • manage a recruitment process for positions on the BOARD OF TRUSTEES making recommendations to THE COUNCIL
  • appoint the Chairs of LOCAL PARTNERSHIPS who will become members of THE COUNCIL.

Scrutiny Committees To enable effective accountability of the BOARD OF TRUSTEES to THE COUNCIL. The BOARD OF TRUSTEES will have an Audit Committee and a Remuneration Committee (to oversee senior management remuneration). It may also choose to have some specialist Committees and/or working parties on key topics such as Finance, Infrastructure, Heritage and Environment.

Joint Committees There may be opportunities for some joint committees, or at least joint membership of committees, where tasks are aligned and resources can be effectively combined.

Trading Subsidiary – A Community Interest Company (CIC) – This is key to the financial viability now and into the future.

A significant and very important source of revenue for Trust will be the various commercial activities that will be ‘inherited’ from British Waterways, notably the endowment property portfolio (made over to the Trust from BW by the Government) but which also includes investments in British Waterways Marinas Limited and a number of joint ventures.

A charity is able to hold investments, but in general cannot engage in trading activities for profit. So the Trust will set up a 100% subsidiary as a Community Interest Company (CIC) – a standard limited company but with the ability to gift its profits to the Trust (as the latter is a charity).

NATIONAL MANAGEMENT and WATERWAY MANAGEMENT UNITS Little is written about these, but I assume they will be the day to day operation units as exist today.