Basingstoke’s plans; North-west link shut until June; Avon fees defended; the high cost of bridge bashes; Tunnel Vision appeal; act now on HS2 threat; WRG asks the family; lockies wanted
PROPOSALS TO TRANSFER the Basingstoke to the Canal & River Trust are unlikely to come to fruition in the foreseeable future, following discussions which found the idea ‘unaffordable’.
Ever since its reopening in 1991 following restoration work, the canal has struggled for maintenance funding. A ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ between Surrey and Hampshire county councils (who took over ownership) and other local authorities seldom provided adequate finance, especially when the smaller authorities failed to pay their calculated contribution.
The deteriorating state of the canal led to fears for its future, but in 2012 a £4m package from the county councils enabled overdue maintenance to be tackled. However, there remains a £ 6m backlog, and the waterway’s long-term survival also depends on more ongoing funding.
A report commissioned by the county councils reduced 11 options to a shortlist of four: (1) statutory minimum intervention; (2) retaining the status quo of targeted maintenance; (3) investment to achieve a ‘steady state’; and (4) transfer to CRT.
The report concluded that option (1) did not meet the key objective of a sustainable future, while option (3) was found to be unaffordable – as was option (4) after discussions showed that the ‘dowry’ CRT would require if it were to take on the liability of the Basingstoke Canal was too high for the councils to afford.
This leaves option (2), retaining the current management and operation of the canal, with the councils recommended to ‘develop a business case’ based on this.