Westminster Campaign Cruise to rally support for Britain’s Waterways

The call to safeguard Britain’s inland waterways will be heard from the river Thames by those in Westminster as a spectacular flotilla of boats come together to sound their horns as they stand united off from the Palace of Westminster on Wednesday, 8 May 2024.

A flotilla of around 30 boats, including commercial freight vessels and over 20 privately owned narrowboats from across the country, with some travelling over 350 miles to take part, will journey up the Thames, holding station off the Palace of Westminster from approximately 12.30-12.40pm, before continuing upriver in support of the Fund Britain’s Waterways campaign to retain the nation’s 5,000-mile network of cherished canals and rivers.

The event, set against the iconic backdrop of the Houses of Parliament, aims to draw attention to the waterways’ severe funding challenges and the economic, ecological and health and wellbeing costs that the country would incur in neglecting this valuable public asset.

Starting from Westminster Bridge at 12:15pm, the campaign will see a vibrant gathering of supporters and culminate with the arrival of the flotilla from approximately 12.30pm. Noteworthy attendees on a specially chartered viewing vessel will include parliamentarians and other dignitaries including Sir Michael Fabricant MP, Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Waterways and Professor Martin Bigg, Master of the Worshipful Company of Water Conservators.

Expressing his support for the cause, Sir Michael Fabricant stated: ““Our canals and rivers and their associated towpaths and historic bridges, reservoirs, aqueducts and tunnels and other infrastructure all play an important part in the lives of millions of Britons. It is vital that we keep this 250-year-old heritage alive and maintained for the benefit of future generations.”

The event will also feature a number of short talks on board the viewing vessel ‘MV Valulla’ from FBW advocates and industry experts, including Chair of the Twentieth Century Society Hugh Pearman MBE on the value of heritage, GPS Marine Holdings Ltd CEO John Spencer on the importance of commercial freight, and an FBW representative outlining the campaign’s objectives and achievements.

W’s campaign continues to gather steam following a series of successful events last year calling for more adequate funding for all the navigation authorities which are already struggling to maintain the network against the impact of severe weather resulting from climate change. The upcoming cruise is the culmination of a broader May Day Bank Holiday weekend of action, including various local events aimed at raising awareness and support for sustainable funding.

Events across the country range from the Inland Waterways Association’s Canalway Cavalcade in Little Venice to community-led cruises and festivals, all designed to showcase the widespread use and love for Britain’s waterways. These events will also provide opportunities for the public to engage directly with the campaign, sign the petition, and learn more about the waterways’ impact on community well-being and national heritage. Find out more about the May Day Bank Holiday weekend of action at https://waterways.org.uk/waterways/sites/fund-britains-waterways-overview/fund-britains-waterways-future-activities

Les Etheridge, Chair of FBW, urges public participation and commented: “This is a pivotal moment for our waterways and many communities that rely on them. We invite people to join us on Westminster Bridge to show their support, and to sign our public petition, so that our message is not only heard in Parliament but also in Whitehall.”

Sign the petition here – https://www.change.org/p/fundbritainswaterways

For further information about supporting from Westminster Bridge, please contact Frances Phasey on 07734 038297 to join the supporters’ WhatsApp group or visit https://waterways.org.uk/support/ways-to-get-involved/events/fund-britains-waterways-westminster-campaign-cruise


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