Friday, November 24, 2006

Waterways hit by cash crisis

[Excerpt from Stockport Times article by Emma Rathbone - 23/11/06]

The future of Marple's locks and canals is under threat due to funding cuts which have been blamed on government "incompetence".

British Waterways (BW) expects to lose £60 million over the next five years as the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has cut funding after it failed to pay subsidies to farmers on time.

Hazel Grove MP Andrew Stunell is backing a parliamentary motion supporting inland waterways and has challenged the government to guarantee that the Cheshire Ring of Canals will remain passable.

He said: "I am very worried that the cash cuts will damage Marple Locks and out treasured local canals. Thousands of people enjoy walking, cycling, jogging and boating along local canals and Marple Locks are key attractions on the Cheshire Ring.
"Stable funding is vital to keep the canals in a useable and pleasant state."

Some 180 redundancies and a drastic slow down in maintenance and repairs to the canal network are expected and fees for boaters may be increased.

Eugene Bastion of BW said a decline in the country's waterways would be a "tragedy" and added: "We are being penalised for Defra's incompetence.
"If we can't maintain the waterways, we can't keep them open. The network is in the best shape for 150 years, but that is now at risk."

People are urged to contact Andrew Stunell, waterways minister Barry Gardiner and secretary of state for the environment David Milliband to voice their concerns.

Click the above image for the Save Our Waterways website.