Wednesday, 27 November 2013

A week for more good news...

We had a busy well attended Council of Management meeting last evening with much to discuss. We heard from Tim Pyatt that the bid to Locality for a Feasibility Grant for the Dauntsey Lock Canal Centre project has succeeded and the Trust has been granted £30,000. This will help with legal fees, architect’s plans, researching the business plan, project management, surveys and more. Pledges for the loans are still coming in and negotiations with the owners for the purchase of the Peterborough Arms are continuing. Sadly, it was the last Council meeting for Mel and George who are stepping down from their Director roles due to time pressures. We shall miss them. Good news on the slipway at Melksham – the application for funding from Viridor was successful and work will be able to start in a few weeks. Planning for the Melksham River Festival next September continues with regular meetings being held. There is a new Waitrose store being built at Wichelstowe and the developers Midas Construction have contacted the Trust to ask if they can do anything for us under the Considerate Constructors Scheme. We are urgently holding meetings to discuss. In addition, Waitrose themselves have offered some help – possibly with wild flowers or other planting and/or bat conservation measures. All projects have to be completed by Easter 2014 when the store opens. Two more small bids have just been submitted, one to Heritage Lottery Fund for the Sharing Heritage programme. If successful, this will fund some educational events at Pewsham Locks and Chippenham Museum next year to highlight the history of the canal. MCC also submitted one to Chippenham Area Board for some more bank stabilisation by way of sand bag walls between the meadow and the winding hole. This is needed so that the path can be improved and the canal will be a better depth for the work boat when it is launched next year. And finally...... good news from Crappers’ landfill site – they have been exceptionally busy lately and the funding that they regularly give the Trust is much more this year. Many thanks to them for all their support. Kath Hatton

Monday, 18 November 2013

Appeals for Your Help- An Amazing Response

You, the members of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust, never cease to amaze me. We came to you for help with buying the land at Bowd's Lane / Seven Locks, and you responded with great generosity and speed. Then we asked for donations for the Dauntsey Lock Canal Centre, and a very worthwhile sum has been given. And then we asked for pledges for a loan scheme to buy the pub. Even without knowing all the details, you have responded magnificently. I am very confident that we will be able to raise the sum we need, if negotiations are successfully concluded. We are working very hard on finalising the details of the scheme; it takes a bit of time - more than I would have liked - but we need to make sure we get all the legal aspects right. In the meantime, we have had an initial meeting with Wadworth, the current owners, and they listened carefully to our proposals and agreed to consider them. The business plan for the canal centre is being worked on. Again, we want to make sure we get this right, and as professional as we can make it, so Tim and Lynne are spending lots of time on it, and we are engaging outside expert help as necessary. Away from that there is a lot going on - too much to list. I am sure that Tim Pyatt would want me to remind you that we are intending to run the Easter Sponsored Walk again, and ask you to put at least half a day aside in your diaries to walk part of the route or to help. On Saturday we attended the Open Day organised by the East Wichel Residents Association. A great bunch of people, very proud of their new community, and of their new canal, and very willing to help us in the task of looking after it. We are looking forward to working with them. Chris Coyle

Monday, 11 November 2013

November News

A busy week ahead for the team with a number of Trust group meetings, including the work party organisers who are hearing about the use of plastic piling tonight . The Trust's engineering and finance and administration committees are also meeting this week. There is much concentration on the Dauntsey Lock Visitor Centre project following the launch last week of a further fundraising initiative to invite members and others to consider a loan scheme. Discussions continue with the owners of the Peterborough Arms and the adjacent canal. Not to be overlooked is a significant landmark last Friday (8th November) when the Trust officially took on the responsibilities as a navigation authority for the canal at East Wichel in Swindon. Although completed there are still a number of unresolved issues including water supply for this section of the waterway. At Pewsham Locks continuing ecological issues are delaying planning consent. The project team intend to submit a second application to speed the process to include parts of the site that will not be subject to further surveys. Please contact me if you need any further information about the Wilts & Berks project