I WAS INTERESTED in Kevin Blick’s interesting article “Yes, but is there enough money to go around” ( CB, Jan) – it’s a very good and valid question. Certainly canal restoration is a ‘long haul’ and often there is scant regard to ongoing maintenance of a restored canal.
It makes me think that, if some of these schemes are to ever come to fruition in the next couple of generations, a more strategic approach to restoration may be required. Surely, if resource was concentrated on key schemes there would be some benefit to the whole. By key schemes I mean those that join more than one waterway to another. (Cotswold, Lichfield and Hatherton, Milton Keynes link and higher Avon link spring to mind.) Any one of these schemes would significantly boost the ability to attract boats to lesser used parts of the network as well as enhancing the use of the system for non-boating leisure use.
Of course, we all have our favourite bits of canal and, certainly, some of my favourite bits of derelict canal could not be considered strategic. So we would need to accept that a more strategic approach would mean some of our own personal favourites go right out in timescale, but, nothing breeds success like success and the restoration of some key routes may lead to lesser schemes being picked up in the slipstream of re-openings.
Who would decide on restoration priority? It would be difficult to get consensus but I can only think that the Inland Waterways Association would be best placed.