We've released an update following the Government Grant Review announcement earlier this year.
On 10 July 2023, we launched our #KeepCanalsAlive Campaign, urging people to write to their MPs to emphasise how much they care about maintaining a safe and thriving canal network in England and Wales.
This followed the Government's announcement of cuts to the future funding provided to the Trust and continued lack of provision for inflation, meaning a reduction of over £300 million in funding in real terms over a ten-year period.
We have been hugely encouraged by the response – around 11,000 emails have been sent to MPs from members of the public who wish to see our canal network well maintained, actively used, and protected for future generations. This is a magnificent response that has ensured our voice is being heard. We want to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone who have taken part in this way.
Members of Parliament
Many MPs in England and Wales have expressed their concern at the future threat to our canals, with the potential for loss of jobs, business, leisure opportunities, health and wellbeing. Others have recognised the very real threat to infrastructure resilience, to flood protection, and to nature recovery and biodiversity.
Several have written directly to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, questioning the decision to reduce our government grant and showing their support for the work that we do. There have been written questions in both Houses of Parliament. Other MPs have pledged their support on social media, and many have come to visit their local waterways for themselves, seeing at first hand both the scale of the effort that is needed to keep them open and the incredible support that our thousands of volunteers provide across England and Wales.
We will continue to take every opportunity to engage with government to explain what is at stake and find ways to address our concerns over the threat to our waterways.
News of the Government's announcement and the proposed cuts to our funding featured nationally on Sky News, ITV News, BBC Radio 4's Today programme and BBC Radio Wales, with significant and ongoing coverage on regional radio and commercial radio stations as the potential impacts on different areas of the country are explored.
The story was widely syndicated in the national and regional press including the Mail, Independent, London Standard, the Yorkshire Post and many others. An interview with David Johns on his ‘Cruising the Cut' vlog allowed Richard Parry, our chief executive, to explain further the implications of the announcement. And as these sank in, many letters and comments from readers, counsellors and MPs in support of the Trust have been printed.
We particularly liked the column from Matthew Parris in The Times on 12 July, commenting on the 'brilliantly run charity' 'maintaining Britain's incredible waterways' and urging readers to write to their MPs about the decision.
We are grateful to the many organisations who have also written on our behalf to the Government. These include several organisations such as British Canoeing, British Marine and Cycling UK whose members use our waterway network for their activities, along with several city councils who have also expressed their concern.
The Fund Britain's Waterways campaign, launched by a coalition of organisations representing users and supporters of inland waterways, is also raising awareness of the challenges facing them with a widely attended event on Birmingham's waterways on Sunday 13 August. The two campaigns are mutually reinforcing the message to Government for continued support.