Michael Fabricant, Chairman of the Waterways All Party Parliamentary Group, joined in celebrations today marking the 10th Anniversary of the Canal and River Trust which was formed out of the old British Waterways Board.
Michael says: “The value of our canals should never be taken for granted. They are not only used for navigation by narrowboats, but provide a tranquil environment for wildlife and for walks along the 2,000 miles of towpaths. These generate £5.9 billion worth of public benefit per annum and support 80,692 jobs. Last financial year, despite Covid, the canals attracted 8.3 million visitors – many from abroad – and 742 million separate visits. That’s quite something! I remember meeting US National Park Service Rangers in Washington DC who were working on the Chesapeake Canal and one saying to me ‘We have 5 miles of restored canal here; you guys have 2,000 miles and we plan to visit the UK on a canal holiday next year.’ 9 million people in the UK live within a 10-15 minute walk of a canal.
“The Government currently provides an annual grant of £52.6 million – about a third of the Trust’s income, but this is now up for review. At a one to one meeting this morning with Richard Parry, the Chief Executive of the Trust, we agreed how important it is that the Government grant continues with funding or the inevitable result will be that some canals will have to be closed.” Later that same day, a reception was held in the House of Commons for Parliamentarians from the Lords and Commons. Photo shows Michael and Richard Parry at the Reception.
“We are blessed in Lichfield by having two major canals running through while Birmingham and the Black Country enjoy more canals than Venice. It is essential we keep and enhance this national heritage” Michael adds.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, recently wrote about the importance of our canals which can be read HERE.