The Scottish Government is seeking three new Non-Executive Directors for the board of Scottish Canals, the custodians of our nation’s inland waterways and an organisation whose board I’m privileged to chair.
I’d encourage anyone interested in helping write the next chapter of the story of our inland waterways to apply, especially if they have skills and experience in corporate finance and governance, particularly in audit and risk; tourism and leisure; or social and economic regeneration.
It’s a fantastic opportunity to shape the development of an organisation that’s delivering real benefits for the people of Scotland, using 250-year-old assets in ways our forebears could never have imagined and bringing lasting positive change to the communities on their banks in times of real financial pressures. With ageing infrastructure, the growing impact of climate change, wear and tear from the popularity of the canals, and increasing pressure on public finances, it’s never been more vital to ensure we manage these 250-year old assets responsibly, competently and for the benefit of the many as well as the few.
Our recently-launched Asset Management Strategy is a major focus for the organisation and sets out how it will use its limited resources to manage the reservoirs, canals, lock gates and bridges in its care, prioritising works that ensure the safety of the public and bring the widest possible benefits for all the people of Scotland.
While there are challenges, there are also incredible opportunities. Scottish Canals really is a public corporation like no other. Anyone driving past The Kelpies on a dark night or glimpsing the ongoing transformation of North Glasgow, Fort Augustus, or Ardrishaig can hardly fail to be inspired by the sense of imagination and ambition that characterises Scottish Canals. This is an organisation determined to do more for the Scottish people with the public assets in its care; embracing novelty and welcoming innovation; there for the many and not just the few.
At the heart of Scottish Canals’ work is an aspiration to see more and more people making use of the waterways. Not just for boating, but for walking, running, cycling, fishing, paddling, birdwatching, or just sitting in the sun and chatting with friends. Our canals are now among the most visited public parks in the country, with annual visits topping a remarkable 22 million.
But the provision of recreational infrastructure is only one element of what we do. Our determination to make more of Scotland’s canals has led us to become an increasingly diversified regeneration and tourism organisation. Creating much-needed housing in North Glasgow; developing ground-breaking sustainable urban drainage schemes; growing innovative tourism hubs in the Highlands; and bringing world-class events such as Red Bull Neptune Steps to Glasgow – it’s clear that Scottish Canals is doing things differently, and doing them well.
It’s a very exciting time on Scotland’s 250-year-old canals. I’d urge you to be a part of it.