A real sense of déjà vu

Published: Wednesday, 02 November 2022

OUR Roger Fox was doing some excavation among his archives and came across pages from the Daily Telegraph of Monday November 20th 1972.

On the back of the article he wanted was another article headed 'Canals crumbling for lack of money'.

Lack of maintenance

Roger had a real sense of déjà vu about this story, that told—'Britain's canal system is crumbling away because of lack of maintenance, according to the Inland Waterways Association (IWA) that held that the government grant to the waterways board is inadequate'.

It told that the government was planning to wind up British Waterway Board (BWB) in 1974 and the IWA had concerns that no more money was forthcoming as it had plans to transfer the canals to ten regional authorities who would be responsible for both water resources and canals.

There is also concern that the necessary Bill is to come into effect at the same time of the reorganisation of local government in 1974, with many officials and organisations believing that too many change-overs will be taking place at the same time.

'Declining rapidly'

At the same time, John Dodwell, the then General Secretary of the IWA, told that the canals were declining rapidly so there was a serious situation even if there was no delay and no such management taking over, it is urgent that the BWB be provided with enough money to maintain the system or the great amenity resources of the canals will be lost.

The Department of the Environment that is drawing-up the Bill stated that both the British Waterways Board and the Water Resources Board would be wound-up.

However, a spokesman for the department  told that it was geared to a transport system. But a wider-based body is required to handle the amenity developments.

The wider-based bodies

The wider based bodies were of course British Waterways followed by Canal & River Trust.

But alas, the 50 years ago headline of 'Canals crumbling for lack of money' is still very much relevant...

Déjà vu indeed.