narrow boat
The Committee

The Committee was first established in early 2005 to oversee the operation of the Waterways Ombudsman scheme and the independence and accessibility of the Ombudsman.

The Committee has five independent members (including the current chair - Karen McArthur), with the provision in the rules for no more than eight.  There is one non-voting observer appointed by each Scheme Member and two who are appointed by the Canal & River Trust. Full details of the membership of the Committee are given in the latest Annual Report and full details of their role in the Rules of the Waterways Ombudsman Scheme September 2020.

The main roles of the Committee are:

  • the appointment (or removal from office) of the Ombudsman;
  • keeping the operation of the scheme under review, both to ensure that it meets its purposes and that it is adequately funded;
  • to receive reports on the method and adequacy of publicising the scheme;
  • to publish an annual report.

Issues relating to the investigation or determination of complaints are matters for the Ombudsman alone, and the Committee has no part to play in those.

The current Committee members are:

Independent members

Karen McArthur had leadership roles in Corporate Responsibility/Sustainability for global companies including Vodafone and Thomson Reuters and now has a portfolio of roles advocating for customers including at The Welsh Housing regulator, London Travel Watch as well as serving as a lay member for a number of regulatory bodies. Karen is an independent member of the water forum at Severn Trent and is Chair of the group advocating for the interests of vulnerable consumers.

She is a Trustee for British Gas Energy Trust working to support vulnerable customers across the energy sector and is an Independent Member Nominations Committee at the National Trust as well as a Lay Member of the Audit & Standards Advisory Committee at London Borough of Brent.

Alan Collins is a partner at Hugh James solicitors and is a specialist in complex personal injury and clinical negligence cases, including child abuse cases in the UK and abroad. He has experience of representing interested parties before public inquiries including the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry, and IICSA. He was the advocate to the People's Tribunal (UKCSAPT) which, in 2016, presented its report to the UK Parliament. He is a fellow of APIL, and the treasurer of ACAL.

Alan is regularly called upon to comment in the media on legal issues and is also a speaker at conferences : UNICEF; La Trobe University; University of Wales; Law Society of Scotland; Strathclyde University; and Dyfed-Powys Police.

Lisa Stallwood works at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (‘RICS’). Through respected global standards, leading professional progression and trusted data and insight, RICS promotes and enforces the highest professional standards in the development and management of land, real estate, construction and infrastructure.

Lisa is a Lead Investigator with the Institution’s regulation team. She investigates high risk and high-profile cases of alleged misconduct within the surveying industry in order to uphold public confidence and professional standards.

Lisa’s professional experience working within regulation also includes as an investigator at the Financial Ombudsman Service and an Ombudsman at the Legal Ombudsman.

Claire Stokes  As a partner and Head of Risk Management for PricewaterhouseCoopers in the UK, Claire led the business risk function. Formerly Deputy Chair of PwC’s Supervisory Board, Claire was involved in providing governance challenge across all areas of the business. Claire was also a member of the Management Consulting Leadership Team.   

Claire’s portfolio now includes membership of Cranfield University Council and she is an independent member of the UK Government’s Security Vetting Appeals Panel. Claire works independently as an advisor and consultant on risk management. She is also a trustee of the Friends of Chichester Harbour focusing on education and conservancy issues. 

Jane Brothwood held a range of senior leadership roles in HM Revenue and Customs. Most recently, as Head of the Adjudicator's Office, investigating complaints about HM Revenue & Customs, the Valuation Office Agency and Home Office Windrush Compensation Scheme and promoting a culture of learning from complaints. In addition, Jane was also chair of the Ombudsman Association Casework Interest Group, sharing best practice and learning from Ombudsman schemes. 

She is an Independent Observer for the Chartered Institute of Taxation Council and is a Foundation Governor for a local Church of England primary school federation

Members appointed by Scheme Body Members

Stella Ridgeway representing Canal and River Trust User groups. Stella was a continuous cruiser mostly on the northern canals until her dialysis. She is now living in the High Peak, having to give up the boat due to her and her husband's illnesses. She and her husband became Friends of the Trust as well as boaters because, as the great granddaughter of a fly boatman out of Middlewich, she believes that this way of life should be preserved, along with the Inland Waterways for now and future generations. She was a previous Council member representing private boaters, and previously worked in the public, hospitality sectors and finance sectors. 

David Greer representing Avon Navigation Trust. David’s connection with Britain’s inland waterways began in 1972 when he joined the Waterway Recovery Group undertaking restoration work on the Stratford upon Avon Canal. He has been a trustee, council member and legal director of the Avon Navigation Trust (ANT) since March 2015. Before retirement in 2018, he had acted as ANT’s solicitor for over 10 years.

As managing partner of his legal practice he believed strongly in the importance of excellence in consumer care. He was therefore very pleased when ANT decided to join the Waterways Ombudsman Scheme to further its commitment to maintaining high standards for all users of the River Avon.

Members appointed by the Canal & River Trust

Tom Deards is the head of legal & governance services, and company secretary. He has responsibility for the legal and governance functions of the Trust. He is a qualified solicitor who joined the Trust’s legal team in 2007, having trained and qualified into the asset finance team at City law firm Clifford Chance, before going on to complete a Legal Masters at UCL in Environmental Law, whilst gaining experience working as an environment and planning lawyer in local government. Tom is the Trust’s Company Secretary and Data Protection Officer.

Janet Hogben was appointed as a Trustee Director of the Canal & River Trust in September 2016 and is a member of the Trust’s Remuneration Committee.

Janet was previously the Chief People Officer at EDF Energy, a role she retired from at the end of 2017. Her earlier career spanned many functions and leadership roles in various blue chip companies.

In December 2018 she was appointed to the Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospital Trust Board.