It's been announced today that Defra (Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) has cut the British Waterways budget by £9 million and that this will result in 180 job losses. British Waterways, who are responsible for the canal system including the Shropshire Union canal through Audlem, are also now looking to save £5 million by reducing their maintenance programme during the winter.
The organisation is said to be looking to increase its revenue in other ways, for example by encouraging more usage of the towpaths but, ominously, there have been accusations that the Waterways might start selling prize canalside assets. All this could be a blow to rural communities on the canal network. Representatives from the village were already planning to arrange a meeting with British Waterways to discuss the now empty Kingbur Mill that used to be the canal shop and is currently on the market at an annual rental in excess of £15,000, and a number of other issues. That meeting is now all the more important following this announcement. More news will be published as the situation becomes clearer.
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