There were protests by canal enthusiasts yesterday in Manchester, Birmingham and elsewhere, including the Anderton Lift, Chester, Middlewich and Market Drayton, as concern mounts about the impact of sharp cuts in the maintenance budget for the canal system. Audlem Online has carried several stories on this issue following the formation of 'Save our Waterways', a voluntary action group, dedicated to taking the campaign against the cuts made by DEFRA to communities along the country's canals and rivers.
S.O.W. embraces all waterways users (anglers, boaters, canoeists, cyclists, runners, walkers, etc.) and those who live and work beside the waterways. The danger was first realised during March this year when the first cut to British Waterways' budget was made. Since then, Defra's financial position has worsened with fears that the department must pay a large fine to the European Union for its failure to make prompt payments to farmers via the Rural Payments Agency. A month ago British Waterways made it public the news that its grant-in-aid for the financial year April 2006 to March 2007 has been cut again. In total, this would mean a loss of over £9 million to British Waterways in the year, with 15% of its grant-in-aid lost.
Save Our Waterways is urging people who are concerned for the canal system to write to their MP in protest, quoting their own specific reasons. The more who write and the more diverse the reasons, the better. MPs can be contacted via www.writetothem.com
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