Posted by Andrew Hall
I was recently talking to a canal enthusiast (and former Mayor of Hebden Royd), who tells me that, because of drastic cuts in funding from DEFRA to British Waterways, there are very real risks that certain canals in our area may be closed. He said that our own canal, the Rochdale, was one on the list of proposed closures.
Having seen this canal transformed from a stinking sludge and weed infested cesspit into possible one of the most scenic routes in the country, and having appreciated the large sums of money that has been spent on it already, I find it inconceivable that it might be abandoned, particularly so as, quite recently, John Prescott cited the regeneration of our canal system as one of the success stories of this government.
There is an article in the Sunday Telegraph which explains DEFRA's problems. For those of you who know the local canal system, the closures would also mean an end to the popular 'Cheshire Ring'.
I can't believe that this will be allowed to happen.
Posted by Andrew Hall
There is now a website which explains clearly the problems facing our inland waterways.
From this site, you can gain access to other sites. The Rochdale Observer has picked up on the news (unlike our own, rather inadequate Halifax Courier). Waterways World has an excellent article. The gist of this article, with regard to closures, is that there's a 30% chance of outright closure of various canals, but, more likely, there will be reduced maintenance, longer stoppages and, in effect, a slow closure-by-stealth (a far more politically acceptable option as it won't be so apparent).
The most obnoxious thing about this is that DEFRA are being penalised because they failed to pay farming subsidies on time, and, as a result, are faced with hefty agricultural compensation payments, which means they have to make savings elsewhere. They appear to have targeted canals as being a soft option for paying the price of their bureaucratic inadequacy - the boating fraternity is a pretty small part of the electorate, so they can be easily sacrificed! They ain't seen the bigger picture!
All canal users, whether they be boaters, walkers, anglers, naturalists, ornithologists, archaeologists, cyclists, or just people who every now and again come into contact with canals and are quite happy with the way they are now, need to realise that things could change, very much for the worse.