Protest about CRT's Audlem shop decision

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Please find below a copy of a letter sent today to the Canal and River Trust's Waterway Manager for North Wales and the Borders, Wendy Capelle, who is based at Northwich.

Her decision to close a delightful local shop based on the bottom lock at Audlem has caused considerable uproar amongst boaters. You can get a flavour of that by (clicking here):

The press release from the Canal and River Trust can be downloaded as a file — use the link below the photograph.

Peter's Letter

Wendy Capelle
North Wales & Borders Waterways
Canal & River Trust
Navigation Road

Dear Ms Capelle
I was appalled to learn that, despite a petition of support from boaters and local people, you have decided to pull the rug from under a thriving canalside business in Audlem.

George's Pork and Poultry, situated beside the bottom lock at Audlem, has became a feature of the canal scene and is regarded as a valuable resource by boaters like myself and local people, having transformed the derelict lock-side land with beds of delicious vegetables as well as providing local meat. It is just the sort of local family business the modern canal system needs.

Bob Cartwright

Despite that, and promises to ensure the business survived , you have decided to withdraw his lease and the clearly pre-prepared excuses in your press release and being made by your public relations staff in online forums are pathetically inadequate.

Your excuses for closure seem to centre around the modest shed Danny George has erected alongside the existing brick-built hut. You complain it is out of keeping with the heritage value of the hut yet you have suggested a larger, uglier, portacabin as an alternative.

As that clearly isn't adequate as an excuse to put a family out of business you also play the health and safety card, claiming to be concerned about people having to cross the lock beams to buy their vegetables.

This is, indeed, curious as tens of thousands of boaters cross lock beams like these every year. Within 200 yards of the business there are locks that have to be crossed from the towpath to reach moorings on the offside and there is another canalside shop by the top lock at Adderley where buyers have to cross the lock beam to buy eggs and cakes.

Veg-box from George's Pork & Poultry

Overall, your excuses for closing down this business are entirely inadequate and will damage the public and boaters' attitudes to the new Canal and River Trust as it attempts to persuade people to support it financially and by volunteering. Who would want to give cash or time to an organisation that acts in such a high-handed manner with an innovative waterside business, established with a great deal of hard work by Danny George and his family.

I ask you to rescind this nasty, short-sighted decision immediately and, instead of seeking reasons why this business should close, do everything in your considerable power to keep it open and demonstrate that the Canal and River Trust will support waterways businesses and help them to thrive.
Peter Underwood
Birmingham (full address provided to Audlem Online.)

AudlemOnline adds: Our photos are from over a year ago before the wooden shed extension referred to above was added.