New Project Officer Chaloner Chute starts work with North Wilts District Council, September 2000

In Dragonfly 79 of Winter 2000-1, Amenity Group chairman Tony Davy announced: “Well, nobody could accuse Chaloner Chute, the Trust's new Project Officer, of letting grass grow under his feet! He had not been in post for a month when he spotted the root cause of something that had been worrying a lot of us for a while. Furthermore, he came up with an answer to the problem.”

What had Chaloner found? After introducing himself and describing his first few weeks with both the Canal Trust and the Amenity Group, Chaloner reported:

“I have an umbrella overview and try to see the broader picture. I guess I am the link between the two organisations, although I am employed by the LA's, I work closely with both and readily appreciate that good lines of communication are needed within and without these organisations. Rest assured that on all matters there is now daily liaison.

“From early days, I became conscious that the structure of the two organisations needed looking at. From an outsider's viewpoint (and insider's for that matter), there was considerable confusion as to who was doing what. Greater clarity is required, followed by greater purpose and sense of vision. All the Local Authority Trust members are now keenly playing their part and I liaise with them daily on a variety of matters from planning to aqueduct ownership; one up at Cricklade (River Key) ‘fell’ into our hands two weeks ago!

“The two Canal organisations span a large geographical area, and I aim to improve the level of co-operation and coordination between them. Therefore, a certain amount of re-structuring is under way to enable the W & B Local Authorities' organisation to deliver their plans more effectively. After extensive consultation, this body is in the process of becoming a larger, stronger partnership truly representing all parties interested in the full restoration. You will be pleased to hear that the K & A Canal Trust are joining this new partnership along with the Cotswold Canals Trust, British Waterways, and the IWA. We expect the Waterways Trust and the Environment Agency as the Upper Thames Navigation Authority to come on board too. We relish the prospect of benefiting from all their experience, expertise and proven track records.

“The new partnership body will shortly be named the Wilts & Berks Canal Partnership. This reflects the consortium of members who have been drawn together to oversee the delivery of the restoration scheme. It will be responsible for the major executive decisions and for seeking the major funds that will be required for the phased restoration programme.

“We also need to gain from the commercial knowledge out there, so we welcome new representatives from the watery business world, including Ian Sharp of Whitehorse Boats and Colin Fletcher, both of whom have filled me with enthusiasm! We are actively seeking a high-profile president to head up the organisation.

“In keeping with these changes, I have also recommended that The [Wilts & Berks Canal] Amenity Group undergoes a title change more in line with what it is managing to do now. It is a registered charity with volunteers, so the most natural direction has been to alter it to the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust. There was healthy debate at your AGM [in October 2000], and I am glad to say most present responded positively and embraced these changes.”