Campaign to close the Bridgewater?

Published: Monday, 17 April 2017

STRICT restrictions brought in by the owners of the Bridgewater Canal are leaving boaters with the distrinct impression that its owners are intent upon closing the waterway to boating.

Last year the Bridgewater Canal Company brought in the rule that Canal & River Trust licence holders would only be allowed on the waterway for seven days, and there was to be no return for a month—otherwise an hefty charge would be made, Alan Tilbury reports.

Without restriction

This was after passage on the waterways for these licence holders had been totally without restriction on the basis that a likewise agreement applied to Bridgewater boats licence holders on the Trust's waters.

Pressure by the Trust to have the ruling revoked had no effect, and so its boaters using the waterway as a transit route found themselves having to pay if they returned within four weeks, as many do who take a 'there and back' cruise on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal.

Stricter for Bridgewater licence holders

It is not only the Trust's boaters who are being restricted, but Bridgewater boaters too, with harsh new rules being introduced, with enforcement officers now patrolling the waterway pestering boaters to move off should they stay at one mooring for more than a few days.

There is now a distinct lack of boating activity on the canal, as retired people who take long summer breaks on the waterway are finding themselves hounded by the enforcement officers to move on, even when moored where they are causing no problems. Boaters who have cruised the waterway are aware that it is very wide, with any towpath mooring causing no problems whatsover.

The Warrington Guardian is the latest newspaper to point out user fears of boating activity at risk due to 'ridiculous amount of enforcement activity', with its readers complaining of being moved on by enforcement officers.

Deserted Lymm

A sign of the increased enforcement is that the thriving village of Lymm, a very popular mooring destination, with its many facilities, is now virtually devoid of boats as the enforcement is concentrated on such places, moving moored boats away.

Many boaters meet-up at Lymm that has always been extremely popular with both Bridgewater boaters and visitors. But no longer as the new regime takes hold and restricts mooring and with boats licenced by the Trust now no longer visiting the village as they did in the  past. The picture of the canal at Lymn shows our own boat moored there during a not so busy week-day—the second time we have stayed.

Closed for three months

Many Bridgewater boaters believe the owners no longer want boats on the waterway, shown by such as the decision to close it from the 13th February until 24th May for the replacement of Vicars Hall Bridge, by Boothstown Marina, that caused such an outcry that the stoppage was then moved earlier from 9th January until 30th April. Many believing that a three months stoppage with no boat access whatsoever is totally unnecessary.

The lock-free connection of the Bridgewater Canal between the Canal & River Trust system and the northern waterways is essential, and its existence must not be jeopardised by the heavy handed Bridgewater Canal Company.