CRT defends property in sale row
THE CANAL & RIVER TRUST has defended the decision of its jointly owned property development partnership ISIS Waterside Regeneration LLP to offer canalside property at Birmingham’s Warwick Bar for sale to potential developers, after complaints from tenants that the sale was being done without their knowledge and CRT was ‘unethically’ bypassing charities legislation in doing so.
The 21 small businesses currently rent their premises (in old industrial buildings in a conservation area by the Digbeth Branch of the Birmingham & Fazeley) on short leases from ISIS, which in turn holds a long lease from booked in representing all three main boat share management companies – BCBM, Carefree Cruising and Ownashare – with the show’s organisers confident of the number rising to at least 20 boats by the time the event takes place on 23-24 April. Two brand new boats are due to be launched.
Andrew Cooley of independent website boatshare4u.co.uk which supports the show pointed out that over 30 shares changed hands at last year’s show, representing “a significant proportion of the 200 or so shares we know to be on offer at the moment”. freeholder CRT. It is this long lease that is being offered for sale: the new owner will decide whether and for how long those short leases are renewed; some tenants are worried they will be ‘off site within six months’.
A CRT spokesman told CB that it was not for the Trust to decide if the property is sold, or who it is sold to and for what sum; it was a matter for ISIS and the decision would be made in the best interests of ISIS to generate income for its owners – including CRT. He added that the property had always been regarded as a development site, that it was only the economic downturn which had prevented it happening some years ago and the space let out on short leases while the economy recovered. gaining skills by working on six waterway restoration projects around the country. The initiative will be supported by the Waterway Recovery Group which has offered places on its canal camps and advised CRT on setting up its own volunteer camps.
Help for Heroes’ Susan Turnbull explained that: “Leaving the military and finding a new direction can be daunting especially for those who are living with life-changing injuries,” but that this project would “help develop new skills that will set them on the path for a new and purposeful career”.
We hope to bring you the list of full canal projects supported in the next issue, but we understand that it is not limited to CRT waterways. Never steered a narrowboat? The Friends of Truman Enterprise Narrowboat Trust is again offering a Have-a-Go cruise under expert guidance from its base at Hatherton Marina on the Staffs & Worcs. Held on Saturday 16 April, it costs £20 per person. Contact Keith Eley on 0121 777 7737.