Boat operators this week called for British Waterways to be transferred from control of the Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs and placed with the Department for Transport.
Giving evidence at an inquiry conducted by the Environment Food and Rural Affairs into British Waterways, boat operator group Sea and Water director Gavin Devine said: 'We want the DfT have some responsibility for British Water.' Chair of the Commercial Boat Operators Association, John Dodwell agreed. 'Defra has no interest in transport. British Waterways needs to come under the control of anyone but Defra.'The committee inquiry was prompted by a £15M funding shortfall from Defra over the past two years that has led to cuts in maintenance across the canal network (NCE 1 March)Also giving evidence directors of British Waterways revealed that freight traffic is loss making for the network and only generates a fraction of their turnover - £700,000, yet costs over £1M to run. Chairman Tony Hayes said 'Companies are not irrational. It is not economically sound,' The losses forced the operator to close its central freight department last year.However he said he hoped that the ODA would continue with plans to use the network to move freight traffic but said that the DfT has not yet signed-up to the proposals.