Last year Peel Holding unilaterally ended the long standing arrangement for mutual free access to the Bridgewater for CaRT registered boats and now they announce a long stoppage on the Leigh Branch, writes David Hymers.
This in the early summer which will upset many people's plans, especially if they want to go to Liverpool. The closure period coincides with the Tall Ships festival in Liverpool and I know that the Link was already heavily booked. In 2015 Peel Holdings closed the main line for several weeks at the height of the season, apparently because of problems with a building neighbouring the canal.
I have checked the bridge on the Leigh Branch which is at issue on the OS map and it appears to be an accommodation bridge which only carries a public footpath for which an easy diversion is available, not a road. It also serves a farm which apparently has alternative access to the outside world.
The stoppage was originally scheduled for the winter, but was not done, perhaps for reasons outside Peel Holdings control. Surely any navigation owner with a sense of responsibility to its own customers and the wider waterways community would in the circumstances have postponed the job until next winter, not insisted on doing it at the height of the cruising season.
Stripped of resposibility
It is high time that Peel Holdings were stripped of responsibility for the Bridgewater; after all it only ended up with it when Manchester Corporation were forced by government to divest themselves of the Ship Canal, to which the Bridgewater belonged. I cannot believe that the Bridgewater contributes much, if anything, to Peel's profits; the licence fees from a few hundred boats can't add up to a great deal and the impression they give is that the bottom line is all they care about.
For all we moan about CaRT, it has got very good at scheduling stoppages for the winter, and when emergencies occur it seems to fix them as quickly as it can. Perhaps if Peel don't want to give up the Bridgewater, they might consider paying CaRT to manage it for them.