Contrary to the government's rules

Published: Monday, 04 January 2021

THE response to the Tier Four coronavirus restrictions by the Canal & River Trust are contrary to the rules laid down by the government.

Its latest advice is:  'Our towpaths remain open for people to enjoy exercise and being in the outdoors, close to nature'. Yet the government's published rules state:

Visitor attractions

Visitor attractions are closed.  Non essential travel is banned and exercise must start and finish at home.

Time and time again the trust boasts of the number of visitors to its towpaths so are obviously a visitor attraction, and the government has closed visitor attractions as part of the Tier Four restrictions of which the huge majority of towpaths are located.

The trust should certainly not be telling people to break the rule of 'visitor attractions are closed' by encouraging them to its own visitor attraction.

The evidence

Are the waterways visitor attractions?  Here's what Canal & River Trust are publishing:

'Record numbers of people have made a trip to the nation’s canals and rivers this summer. During August, 5.4 million people visited a canal or river over our busiest fortnight, breaking previous visitor records as people took advantage of the good weather to come down to the waterside'.

A spokesman for Canal & River Trust, comments:

“The nation’s canals are great places to visit and it is fantastic to see more people using them. This summer we’ve seen more people walking along their local towpath, running and cycling, taking advantage of the nice weather to ditch the car and travel canal-side instead, or just enjoying the calm and tranquillity offered by our waterside environment."

Bernard Donoghue, Director of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, comments:

“Britain has so much to offer for a good day out. It’s great to see people visiting their local canal or river. And like the results for the waterways, we’re expecting to see a surge in visitor numbers...."

That is clear enough.  There is absolutely no doubt that the towpaths are a visitor attraction.  The government rules are clear—Visitor attractions are closed.