Victor: Headless chicken

Published: Sunday, 04 August 2019

AS FAR as the emergency at Whaley Bridge is concerned, Canal & River Trust is behaving like a headless chicken in not knowing what to do next.

It was our Keith Gudgin who pointed out that at first CaRT told boaters to 'take every precaution', then it did the opposite with the panic closing both Marple Flight on the Peak Forest and Bosley Flight on the Macclesfield, preventing them from taking the 'precaution' of escaping the possibility of the dam bursting and flooding the two waterways.

But now someone with a modicum of sense in the organisation must have pointed out to whoever was responsible that that was a dangerous decision, so came another panic—Marple and Bosley flights are now open enabling boaters to get well away from the area.

But now, obviously not knowing what to do next it is relieving itself of any subsequent problems by advising boaters who have doubts of their safety not to ring its extended emergency telephone number—but the police!

Headless chicken doesn't cover it!

WhaleyBridgeWeedsA disaster waiting to happen

At long last, CaRT's particular brand of maintenance has come under the spotlight when it was discovered that three years ago photographs of the broken spillway clearly show weeds and trees growing in between the panels, that have raised questions over its lack of maintenance since then. With a suggestion that these gaps could have increased the damage, with the resulting collapse of the panels.

And to knock on the head the often peddled excuse 'it was left in that condition by British Waterways', this photograph was taken four years after CaRT was formed, yet nothing was done.

The result, we all know—a town having to be evacuated.

Worse is to come

With the chance we are told of more rain in the near future, there is the real possibility of the reservoir failing and flooding the town, the surrounding country and the canals, that begs the questionwill the townsfolk be content in the future to live under the threat of the poorly constructed dam giving way? I certainly would not.

That leaves the only alternative—empty it, take it down and rebuild it safely.  But that would prove to be excessively expensive, and just to provide water for a couple of canals, so who would foot the bill?

But the outcome for boaters. No water supply for either the Peak Forest or Macclesfield canals for many years whilst the dam is rebuilt, or failing it being rebuilt, in what has proven a dangerous position, the two canals closed.

Now you know

Wading through the endless propaganda in CaRT's 2018/19 Annual Report & Accounts, concerning how 'life is better by water' I found this little gem from boss man Richard Parry:

“The renaissance of the canals continues to go from strength to strength and the network we manage today is in better health than ever."

But 2018 had all three major northern canals closed over August and one week we had a record of 12 'stoppages', And somehow I don't think those residents of Whaley Bridge believe 'life is better by water'...

Victor Swift