The last instalment of the British Waterways, Annual Report and Accounts has been published. Sub plot title "Alice in Wonderland back in a hole." This is a tale of everyday folk on large remuneration and pension packages, telling it like it is.
Lets start by taking a look at the Chairman's Statement given at the front of the Annual Report and Accounts.
Chairman Hales blandly stated "Nearly thirteen million people visited our waterways in 2010 despite the poor summer weather."
Call me old and cynical, but I don't believe that one in person in every five of the population of the UK visited the canals last year. That would be 35,616 different people visiting each and every day. If this information is true, what the report fails to make clear is why the visits were made. More importantly the report fails to make clear how the evidence in support if this dubious statistic was collated. Note Chairman Hales says people - not visitors who could be the same people visiting more than once.
Smoke and Mirrors alarm: "We measure our customers’ experience by asking them about their ‘propensity to recommend’ and, in line with our desire to ‘delight’ our customers, we have chosen to measure ourselves against the very high rating of ‘definitely’ recommending. In 2010, 59% of towpath users (2009: 56%) and 65% of destination visitors (2008: 67%) said they would ‘definitely’ recommend our waterways to others. If we also take into account ‘probably’ and ‘possibly’, which is more comparable to other industries, we score a very respectable 95% for towpath visitors (2009: 95%) and 96% for destination visitors (2008: 96%)."
Chairman Hales blandly stated in the Annual Report and Accounts "For the seventh year running, over 90% of the population rated canals as an important part of the nation’s heritage."
Call me old and cynical, but again I don't believe that 56,035,800 people out of a total population of 62,262,000 in the United Kingdom voted the inland waterways as an important part of our heritage. Once again if this information is true, what the report fails to make clear is why the the rating was established. The report also fails to make clear how the evidence in support if this dubious statistic was collated and verified. Note Chairman Hales says population - not a representative sample of the population. You can't make it up!
Smoke and Mirrors, that's what this statement to the report actually amounts to. I might just as well read out the text of Alice in Wonderland and then state unequivocally on this evidence 90% of the population, for the seventh year in a row, have rated the canals an important part of our national heritage.
It does not stack up and in a something of a regular Meldrew Moment for me, whenever BW is concerned "I don't believe it"
Chairman Hales blandly states "We have achieved some significant milestones, including the long awaited completion of the Droitwich Canals."
There is no mention from Chairman Hales of the Droitwich Canals Trust who started the whole process back in 1973. Or the Droitwich Canals Restoration Partnership including BW which came together some 28 years later in July 2001. No it is obviously all down to the BW board and Chairman Hales! You can't make it up!
Chairman Hales blandly states "Reductions in income have forced tough decisions to be made within British Waterways resulting in changes to working practices, employee benefits and, regrettably, some redundancies. The Board is hugely grateful to all our colleagues in BW for their cooperation and positive support in delivering these changes."
This round of redundancies somehow missed out the very grateful British Waterways Board and fell onto the shoulders of the lower paid workforce. There were a couple of retirements from the board, but no redundancies, now there is a surprise. So whilst the workforce were thrown onto the sword, the board lives on for for another round of bonuses, pension contributions and large pay increases. You can't make it up!
The Annual Report and Accounts blandly states "We have also achieved significant growth (67%) in volunteering – a priority as we move to charitable status."
But not to worry, BW has a plan for the workforce! Made redundant on Friday and then the workforce will be most welcome to come back on Monday on their old job as an unpaid volunteer! I bet they flock back in droves.
The Transition Trustees for the new waterways charity have now been appointed by Defra. Guess who gets the top job - None other than the wiz kinder himself, Chairman Hales, you can't make it up.
That's page one, only another ninety pages more of this make believe Smoke and Mirrors bedtime story!
As for value for money, you can make up your own mind!
Prime Minister £ 142,500 (comparator)
Robin Evans, £ 234,050
Steve Dunlop £ 153,845
Nigel Johnson £ 179,151
Stuart Mills £ 157,750
Vince Moran £ 162,114
Philip Ridal £ 197,058
Simon Salem £ 147,677
Jim Stirling £ 167,605
BW total £ 1,399,250