Mon, 19 Nov 2018
NEWBURY should be doing more to make use of its canal.
That was the view of West Berkshire Council chief executive Nick Carter, who made his comments at the recent Newbury Vision conference.
He was responding to Newbury Town Council leader Adrian Edwards, who asked why the town’s canal had barely featured in the public forum.
At the conclusion of the conference, Mr Edwards (Con, Falkland) asked whether more commercial opportunities could be explored between the local authority and the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust, in addition to the town’s existing leisure facilities.
Addressing the Vision panel, Mr Edwards said: “No mention has been made about the canal.
“The Kennet and Avon Canal goes all the way through West Berkshire. It comes through the town.
“Can I ask what plans, if any, there are with the canal trust to improve or enhance the canal throughout the district to make it much more interesting and effective?”
In his response, Mr Carter conceded that Newbury could utilise its canal more.
Mr Carter said: “Newbury doesn’t make as much of the canal as it could – there are many examples of towns on the Kennet and Avon that have done more.
“In the original vision, we had quite ambitious plans for water bases, which we took to public consultation.
“We have some plans for the Waterside Centre to be redeveloped. I think that will do something to improve the environment there.
“But I still think, in the context of Newbury going forward, we’ve still got to have a conversation about how we can use the canal more effectively.
“It is a challenge that the town needs to have a look at – there is a scope there to develop it.”
The council’s policy and transport manager Bryan Lyttle added that one of the biggest problems facing West Berkshire’s canal is its tendency to flood, which puts restrictions on its commercial activity.
Responding to the comments made at the Vision conference about the canal, the chairman of the Kennet and Avon Trust, Rob Dean, said: “I’m not sure the canal is underused.
“There’s a great deal of scope for more people to make more use of the canal.
“It’s a great place where people just chill out and can relax – people do not even have to get on a boat.
“I think councils need to get involved to make it easier for people to access and enable them to get better use out of it.”