STOKE-ON-TRENT City Council and waterway groups have come together in the formation of a joint plan to ensure canals are an important part of regeneration work in the city, and to strengthen their appeal to residents and tourists.
The new partnership will see the authority work with British Waterways, Caldon and Uttoxeter Canals Trust, English Heritage, Inland Waterways Association, RENEW North Staffordshire, Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, Stoke-on-Trent Boat Club, and Trent and Mersey Canal Society.
The start of the partnership saw the Lord Mayor, Denver Tolley, cruise with fellow members along the waterway this week on the Beatrice charity narrowboat along with local and voluntary groups who use the city's canal network.
The aim of the partnership is to install welcome signs at the three gateways into the city by water, incorporating an information box with information, literature and maps outlining the heritage and tourism opportunities available for boat visitors to the city.
The works will be completed by March 2011 to take advantage of the full duration of the leisure boating season.
Burslem Branch Canal
A further aim is to support regeneration work in the area such as the volunteer-led Burslem Port Project which aims to reopen the Burslem Branch Canal which closed almost 50 years ago.
Councillor Tolley remarked:
"We have such a wonderful network of canals that take in historic sites of the city's industrial past, as well as our miles of open spaces and countryside. We want to ensure as many people as possible are able to enjoy the waterways, whether they are on a boat, cycling on the city's network of cycle paths that include routes along our canals, walking or fishing."
The Beatrice charity narrowboat gives children with special needs the chance to experience days out on the area's canals, and is a cause close to the Lord Mayor's heart. Councillor Tolley has chosen to raise money for the group as one of his civic charities during his year in office.