What we do

family by canal

The Waterways Ombudsman investigates complaints about the Avon Navigation Trust and the Canal & River Trust and any of its subsidiaries. The service is free of charge to complainants and can be used when the Trusts' own complaints process has been completed. 

The ombudsman cannot consider complaints about other waterways, such as those operated by the Environment Agency or Peel Holdings (which includes the Bridgewater Canal), or any marinas or moorings other than those owned by the Trust. Any complainants about these should be referred to the relevant organisation.

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For information about the Scheme including, the Rules, Annual Reports and case summaries please click here.

The rules of the Ombudsman Scheme were adopted by British Waterways in 2005. In May 2015 the Rules were amended to ensure that the Scheme complies with the Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (Competent Authorities and Information) Regulations 2015 (SI No. 542). In September 2020 and November 2023 the Rules were updated to reflect changes to the Committee membership and the inclusion of ANT. In March 2024 the Rules were updated to better reflect how awards are calculated. 

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Who we are

The Ombudsman is John Withington. He works part-time in that role.

He was appointed by The Waterways Ombudsman Committee following an advertisement and open competition for the post.

John started on 1 July 2024 and will serve a minimum 5 year term. 

About The Ombudsman