Things may be even worse than I realised.
On Tuesday Charlotte Atkins, the Labour MP for Staffordshire Moorlands, initiated a Westminster Hall debate on inland waterways in the West Midlands. In her speech she talked about the plight of the Caldon Canal:
In reality, however, the future of the Caldon canal is far more dismal. As a cul-de-sac, it does not have the same status as the canals on the north-south through route on the national waterways network. Many ofthe structures on the Caldon have been awaiting maintenance for years. In the light of current funding cuts, those works are likely to be postponed for even more years. For instance, piecemeal repairs have been made to the Hazelhurst aqueduct and embankment over the last few years rather than the necessary major work that was planned. Its structural failure could easily cause the Caldon to be closed, which would have far-reaching effects for the local economy and the entire canal network.That would be a tragedy.
We should remember that the Caldon was reopened by a dedicated band of volunteers back in 1974, and there is a real risk that, within living memory, whose who reopened the canal could see it close again.
The Caldon Canal starts in the unlovely centre of Stoke on Trent - as far as it has a centre - and ends in the beautiful Churnet valley. It makes a wonderful walk, and the far end is so remote that for a good stretch the canal is accompanied in that valley by the river and a steam railway, but no road.