Where now for Cotswold Canals?

Canal Boat - - News -

THE RE­JEC­TION OF a bid to the Her­itage Lot­tery Fund for £15-mil­lion to­wards the £ 20-mil­lion restora­tion of four miles of the Stroud­wa­ter Nav­i­ga­tion (con­nect­ing an al­ready com­pleted six-mile sec­tion to the na­tional net­work) isn’t the end of the story. The Cotswold Canals Trust (CCT) is al­ready plan­ning a re­vised bid and Canal­Boat talked to Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Ken Bur­gin as to where things will go from here.

Why did the bid fail? The Trust be­lieves that the HLF re­garded it as ba­si­cally a good bid, with no ma­jor fail­ings (although doubt­less some ‘tweaks’ could be made), but that it was to­wards the top end of what was likely to suc­ceed given the amount of cash avail­able and the to­tal num­ber of bids. Most of the suc­cess­ful ones were for sums closer to £10m. Can the cost be pared-down next time? Not re­ally. The whole ob­jec­tive of this length (known as Phase 1b) is to re-con­nect the re­stored Phase 1a (Stone­house- Stroud-Brim­scombe) sec­tion to the canal sys­tem at Saul. There are ma­jor en­gi­neer­ing jobs (cross­ing the rail­way, M5 mo­tor­way and A38) and you can’t cut it much be­low £20-mil­lion with­out miss­ing out some­thing vi­tal. Even try­ing to pare it back to the pure en­gi­neer­ing work would be un­likely to suc­ceed – the ‘ex­tras’ such as ed­u­ca­tion, com­mu­nity and her­itage as­pects are what ticks the boxes at the HLF. So what can be changed to give the next bid a bet­ter chance? The ‘match fund­ing’ can be im­proved: firstly by se­cur­ing more other sources of fund­ing, to re­duce the amount be­ing re­quested; se­condly, more work can be done to en­sure a higher level of cer­tainty of the match fund­ing. The first bid iden­ti­fied sources of £5-mil­lion, but it would help if a re­newed bid could get within ‘cred­i­ble dis­tance’ of get­ting it all con­firmed when the bid goes in. It’s a fine bal­anc­ing act: don’t ask for too much from HLF, but don’t rely on too much un­se­cured match fund­ing ei­ther. Will a new bid go in this year? Not nec­es­sar­ily, There’s an added com­plex­ity in the form of a lo­cal com­pany putting in an ap­pli­ca­tion for a ma­jor de­vel­op­ment by

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.