RALLYING CALL - 'Government cuts will put Worcestershire's canals under threat' - The Bromsgrove Standard

RALLYING CALL - 'Government cuts will put Worcestershire's canals under threat'

Bromsgrove Editorial 17th Aug, 2023   0

‘A GOVERNMENT grant cut of £300million could lead to canal closures’ – that’s the warning from a waterways charity which is urging people to write to their local MP.

The UK’s canal network, which includes the Worcester to Birmingham, Droitwich and Stratford canals and the northern part of the Grand Union canal, is over 200 years old in places and needs considerable finance and work to keep in good working order.

The Canals and Rivers Trust said: “Such a drastic decrease will inevitably result in a decline in the overall condition of our waterway network, and, alarmingly, the possibility of canal closures.

“It puts at risk invaluable natural habitats, historic infrastructure and cherished public spaces.”

Local waterways are enjoyed by everyone from walkers and cyclists to fishing enthusiasts, paddlers, boaters and wildlife spotters and the CRT says the cut comes despite a Government review confirming funding is ‘clear value for money’.

The cuts are scheduled for between 2027 and 2037 and the CRT wants people to write to their MP in a bid to prevent the cuts.

Tony Brannon, from The Worcester-Birmingham and Droitwich Canals Society, warned the cutback would have dire consequences for Britain’s waterways.

“The fear is that so many canals will fall into disrepair because there’s infrastructure to maintain, dredging to be done, towpaths and bridges to maintain.

“Canals used to be run by British Waterways, a government body, but it was handed over to the Canal and River Trust, a charity, and now they expect a charity to look after mile upon mile of canal while cutting its grant.”

Mr Brannon has written to Sajid Javid and said, having acknowledged the importance of the canal network.

In response, the MP said: “To date, the Canal and River Trust has received £550m of Government funding.

“Since first created in 2012 as a private charity independent of the Government, Ministers have been clear that the Canal and River Trust should become progressively more self-sufficient.

“A Memorandum of Understanding between the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Canal and River Trust in June 2012 included the objective to ‘reduce dependence on Government Grant and to foster increasing self-sufficiency, by providing access to new charitable income streams and stimulating new efficiencies’.

“I am aware the new funding deal for 2027 to 2037 continues that objective.”

People wanting to write to their MP can visit action.canalrivertrust.org.uk/page/129216/action/ for more.


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