Cash-starved British Waterways has withdrawn from its involvement in the Cotswold Canals Partnership (see our news report). This follows the diversion of significant funds for the urgent repairs to 16 miles of the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal in Wales.
"Our existing waterways must take priority" says Robin Evans and, while that is undoubtedly true, it hardly explains why BW is walking away from the Cotswolds scheme. BW has already re-directed the money earmarked for the rebuilding of Vale Royal lock to the Mon and Brec. A large number of other repair and maintenance works scheduled for this winter were also put on hold to save money. Why is BW pulling the plug on the Cotswold Canals at this stage? Could it be that the flattening of the housing market has reduced the expected income from BW's property interests?
This news is very alarming for all waterway restoration groups. But the cutting back of maintenance and repairs is alarming for existing waterway users. If another catastrophic failure should occur, where will BW find the money to sort it out? This all comes back to our main campaigning theme - the need for waterway funding to be put on a secure, predictable and adequate basis and not subject to the dubious fortunes of DEFRA.
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