There is no doubt in my mind that the canal is a huge asset to the community and now British Waterways has gone to be replaced by the Canal and River Trust (a ‘National Trust’ type organisation) I hope that new opportunities will be found to further develop it.
One of the problems during the BW era was that there was no local organisation to talk to or lead person and it could take an age or longer to get responses from them. As an example I know that Maghull Town Council has been trying to locate an historical plaque next to one of the swing bridges in the Town for a couple of years now and still the matter rumbles on with no sign that BW or its successor is going to get its act together.
But on another level it would be good to know who local councillors should speak to so that we can build working relationships with the new Trust. Maybe this could be a volunteer but it needs to be someone who knows what the Trust is doing and can do locally so that real partnerships can be created. Only recently my colleague Cllr. Bruce Hubbard was complaining of being unable to make any progress with regard to a canal bank problem that is in need of repair in Maghull.
My friends the volunteers at Maghull in Bloom clean up the canal tow path throughout Maghull & Lydiate but it was hard work getting this organised in a way that the old BW and indeed Sefton Council were happy with. It’s a good job they were determined to see it through but the end result is a very clean stretch of canal in our part of the world.
Recently I was asked about the steps leading down from Pilling Lane Canal Bridge to the tow path as they have been closed for a while and fenced off. This stone bridge has had its problems in the past as the land around it has been found to be unstable and just one look at the stone steps shows you that they have settled, are uneven and unsafe. So whilst I can see the reason for the closure of the steps I want them back in use ASAP. After all they are the only link from the canal to Lydiate Village Green and the shops/pub and cafe around it which canal users will want to use and the businesses need to gain the benefit of the user’s trade. I am now chasing this through to see what can be done to hurry the repair work along.
Finally, we have seen the closure of Hall Lane Canal Swing Bridge in Maghull but the background to the closure is not well known and a chat with our local Champion newspaper reporter indicated that he knew little about the big job that had broken out because the Trust had not been in touch about the works.
All this makes me think that we really do need better local communications with the new Trust so that knowledge is spread and community projects developed. Let’s hope for progress on these fronts. I would love to hear from the Trust and start the process of building a new and lasting relationship/partnership locally.