Conferences provide chance to talk

The British sailing industry has been on the agenda for politicians in recent weeks with the Boating Alliance representing the industry at the party conferences.

The alliance is comprised of the British Marine Federation (BMF), Royal Yachting Association (RYA), British Canoe Union (BCU) and Inland Waterways Association (IWA).

After meeting key Liberal Democrats at their Liverpool conference, the alliance met with leader of the opposition, Ed Miliband, and shadow secretary of state for culture, media and sport, Ben Bradshaw (pictured above with members of the Boating Alliance) at the Labour party conference in Manchester.

In Birmingham this week at the Conservative Party conference the team discussed;

– the future of British waterways with the waterways minister, Richard Benyon;

– raising the profile of the sailing holidays in the UK with tourism minister, John Penrose;

– the Fuel Quality Directive with transport minister, Philip Hammond;

– how the economic climate is effecting marine companies with former trade minister, Lord Digby Jones.

They also had a meeting with Anne McIntosh, chairman of the environment, food and rural affairs select committee, and Caroline Spelman, minister for the environment, food and rural affairs.

Howard Pridding, executive director of the BMF, said: ‘It really is important to be visible to the politicians – Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrats – and by taking a stand at party conferences we can rub shoulders with ministers and other influential politicians, giving us quick and direct access to lobby.

‘It’s the ideal way to get our views, issues and concerns, and those of our members, across to the various parties, positioning the importance of our sector which, with a turnover of £3.1bn, makes a significant contribution to the economy.’

Gus Lewis, head of legal and government affairs at the RYA, said: ‘The RYA and BMF work very closely to resist any legislation that makes boating more difficult or expensive.

‘For many years now we have shared a stand at the party conferences as it is an effective way of raising awareness of key concerns to politicians at all levels.’

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