Councillors voice concern over funding cuts for Canal & River Trust
Fears expressed that the canal could decline and fall into disrepair
Concern has been expressed over the ramifications of a cut in funding from central government for the Canal and River Trust and how this could affect the Oxford Canal in Banbury.
Last week the Trust issued a stark warning saying: “a reduction in grant funding of over £300 million in real terms will threaten the future of the nation’s historic canals, leading to their decline and to the eventual closure of some parts of the network.”
The issue was raised by Labour Councillor Matt Hodgson at a full meeting of Cherwell District Council on Monday night.
In a question to the Conservative Council Leader Barry Wood, Councillor Hodgson said: “In light of these stark warnings, and given the fact that the Oxford Canal is a key asset to Banbury and the district; and in terms of the Castle Quay II development and this Council’s commitment to encouraging residents to enjoy the ambience of the canal side; I would ask the leader of the Council to write to the Secretary of State for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, requesting that there is an immediate review with the cuts in order to avoid this valuable asset, and others across the country, falling into disrepair and even ultimately closing.”
Councillor Wood responded, saying he was grateful for the question. He added: “Given this Council’s substantive investment in canalside, it would be a clear matter of interest to us. I will undertake to write in the manner that Councillor Hodgson indicates, because it’s in the direct interest of the investments made by this Council, and I believe it’s in the direct interest of the residents of the district as well.”
Officers at Cherwell have been seeking funding for improvements to the canal infrastructure including bids for funding and the use of developer contributions – monies provided by housing developers under legal agreements linked to their planning permissions. Earlier this week £160,000 of developer contributions was released to the Canal & River Trust to help protect the local waterways infrastructure.
After Monday’s meeting Councillor Wood said: “The recent loss of fish in the Banbury Canal following storms caused a great deal of public concern was a stark reminder of the importance of protecting the Oxford Canal.
“The council is committed to regenerating the canal side area of Banbury and while we are not the authority in charge of waterways, we recognise that the canal is a key asset for the life of Banbury and Kidlington and we of course wish to see the funding that supports the Canal & River Trust protected.
“In addition to my letter to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, officers will be continuing to work to find other ways that the council can support the Trust in the interests of the local environment, economy, and biodiversity.”
Published: by Banbury FM Newsteam