Canal & River Trust

We have amassed a deep expertise in the issues around the waterways in the UK, including tourism and heritage – and have supported the Trust in lobbying

Client


Canal and River Trust

Sector


Through a combination of central and local outreach by the trust we are generating more than 30 MP visits and engagements per year to the country’s canal network.  

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BackgroundArrow

Background

Cavendish have supported the Trust and its predecessor organisation, British Waterways, for a decade. In doing so, we have amassed a deep expertise in the issues around the waterways in the UK, including tourism and heritage – and have supported the Trust in lobbying government on tourism-related issues to ensure that all visitors benefit from the network’s blue and green space and tranquil environment. 

The Canal & River Trust is one of the biggest charities in the UK, with a responsibility for running over 2,000 miles of historic waterways in England and Wales. The Trust was formed in 2012, with cross-party backing from Parliament and a unique 15-year grant agreement from Government, to manage and protect the waterways network and to maximise its potential benefit to the nation.  

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Strategy

Key areas of focus for our work with the Trust include:

  • Government FundingWhen spun out of Government to form the charity, the Trust was awarded a 15-year contract with a review in 2022. A significant part of our work is focused on ensuring that there are a broad range of stakeholders in the UK Government who appreciate the impact of the organisation (and the funding) on their agendas. While Defra is still the primary contracting Department, the Trust’s impact stretches to DHSC, DCMS, BEIS, MHCLG, DfT and Cabinet office. Our engagement on value also extends to the Welsh government, local and regional authorities and a host of NGOs. It is our job to make sure we are telling relevant stories, establishing allies and activating them when they are needed.  

 

  • FloodingThe Trust is the custodian of a 200-year-old network that plays a key role in water management/flood prevention but is also, due to age and climate change events, increasingly susceptible to asset failure. This was starkly illustrated in 2019 when Toddbrook Reservoir was damaged by extreme weather, with genuine fears of a collapse that would lead to the evacuation of Whaley Bridge. This crisis event involved the most senior members of Government, triggered a COBR meeting, and was beamed around the world. Our role was part of the crisis comms team that engaged Government, Opposition and key parliamentary stakeholders in real time, and extended to managing stakeholder engagement on the Trust’s positioning well after the event when the Trust’s and independent reviews were published. Our role again was to ensure that confidence in the Trust’s asset management was maintained, and that there was an understanding of the complexities of managing historic infrastructure in the context of climate change.  

 

Through a combination of central and local outreach by the trust we are generating more than 30 MP visits and engagements per year to the country’s canal network.  

Recently we have also worked with the Canal & River Trust and local MPs on support for the restoration of the Montgomery Canal and ensure enhancement to the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal Heritage Site to transform leisure and tourism opportunities. This led to £15.4 million of investment from the Levelling Up Fund and was referenced in the Levelling Up White Paper. 

In 2022 we held a 10 year anniversary parliamentary reception for the Canal and River Trust which was a resounding success and had more than 50 Parliamentarians in attendance throughout the evening.  

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