MP in talks over canals

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Fenland MP Steve Barclay MP has held high-level discussions with the Minister for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, to discuss plans for a new law which would give a boost to Fenland’s canals and tourist industry.

Mr Barclay met with Waterways Minister Richard Benyon to discuss a law which would give the local canals authority new powers to raise funds from leisure craft passing through North East Cambridgeshire. The money would be channelled into improving moorings and making more facilities available to pleasure boaters and canal users.

Meeting at the Depart for Environment, Food and Rural affairs, Steve highlighted that under the plans, more could be spent on frontline flood prevention measures across Fenland.

At present, centuries old rules curtail the power of the waterways authorities to levy funds from canal users which would be used to carry out vital upgrades and maintenance work.

Mr Barclay said: “It is great news that plans for a new law to boost facilities for canal users and flood planning for Fenland are progressing so positively.

“The Minister showed he understood the need to bring the Middle Level Commission in line with other waterways around the country. North East Cambridgeshire is currently the only authority in England unable to access funding for improvements from canal users.

“This limitation is holding back the potential for our canals to become wonderful attractions for leisure boaters. These waterways are located in beautiful Fenland landscape and could become a key element of the local tourist offering and growth plan for the area.

“Unlocking this potential and granting the Middle Level commission these powers would give a real boost to the regeneration plans underway in Fenland, and I look forward to working with the Minister who is supporting our bid to get these powers passed into law.”

Mr Barclay recently met with Iain Smith,Chief Executive and Clerk of the Middle level commission discuss the funding challenges faced by his authority and the ways in which Steve could assist in bringing Fenland canal laws in line with the rest of the country.

The Middle Level Commission, headquartered in March is responsible for 150 Miles of canals in North East Cambridgeshire.