Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year

A very short report this week to thank all the WBCT team  for all the hard work during the year - another busy one  moving the restoration forward .
Here's to 2016 and even more success!
Perhaps over the Christmas break you might like to take a look at the current Trust invitation to join the new Executive and suport teams- emails are currently being sent out - please contact  Jonathan Till  for more information email:
The next blog will be in a couple of weeks time in the first week of January.

Merry Christmas

Ken Oliver

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Some serious stuff – but a reminder of why we do it

At the AGM in October we laid out the plans for the re-organisation of the Trust’s structure, with the objective of streamlining our management, and making a clear distinction between the governance of the Trust, to be in the hands of the Board of Trustees, and day-to-day management, which will be looked after by the Executive.  Since that time we have been working on the details of those plans.  Part of that has been planning an Extraordinary General Meeting of the Trust, at which we will update you on the final shape of the re-organisation, and members can give formal approval to any necessary changes to our Memorandum and Articles resulting from the steps we are taking.  At a meeting of the Board of Trustees last week we confirmed that the date for that meeting will be:

Saturday 5th March 2016, and it will be held at Ellendune Community Centre, in Wroughton at 2.00 pm. 

Full details will be circulated with the next edition of Dragonfly.

We will also be circulating shortly our proposals for the structure of the Executive team.  Very importantly, there are a number of posts to fill, so we will be inviting expressions of interest from all members for any of those posts.  Now is your chance!  If you would like to help carry forward the work of the Trust in any capacity, please make that known to us.  We are looking to build strong, active and effective support teams for the members of the Executive; if you have been unsure about becoming involved before, this is an ideal opportunity to explore how you can make a contribution.

We will be giving more details through the branches, and on the website, but contact us if you would like to learn more.

By way of contrast, last Sunday I had the pleasure and privilege of crewing on nb Dragonfly for the Santa trips.  It was a joy to see how much fun the children (and the adults too) had on the trips.  The amount of work that the boat team puts in to organising and running these excellent trips is phenomenal; the results in terms of publicity and goodwill are outstanding.  Well done the team.

Chris Coyle


Friday, 4 December 2015

Studley Grange canal construction now due to be completed in the New Year and tow path planting will take place in the Spring.

What has happened so far  at Studley Grange:
As you all know we have been talking about re-instating the 1.2km stretch of canal at Studley Grange for some years but it was only last year that we managed to complete the environmental impact study around the adjacent landfill site, and also conclude our discussions with BIFFA who own the route and who have been most supportive. BIFFA have agreed to lease the canal route to the Trust at a token rent for the foreseeable future.
The subsequent construction tendering process resulted in Land and Water Services (LAWS) starting work in June, with a completion date of 9th November 2015.  Despite ecology studies and a pre-commencement walk over the site   the unexpected discovery of a Great Crested Newt resulted in the requirement for further ecologist input and investigation prior to undertaking site clearance and excavation.   
LAWS were back at work in July but since then two additional issues have emerged:
First, land slippage may require an element of re-design following discussions between WYG and Land and Water. Second, LAWS have determined that the site conditions have had an impact on the construction process and they have therefore taken the decision to postpone further works until the winter weather has passed.
We are all disappointed that this work could not be completed this year but you will see what looks like a completed canal . Unfortunately as the towpath works have yet to be completed it is not yet possible to access this section of canal. 
Next year: So the new stretch is not going to be completed until sometime in the New Year. I know everyone will find this frustrating  but we are hoping that work will re-commence in April/May, the exact date dependent on how wet this winter is. The towpath surfacing will be one of the first jobs and that will allow the planting of the banks, marginal areas and hedgerow infilling to be done. Kate Jones, our project leader for the Wildlife Trail, is organising some brilliant interpretation boards and leaflets with local students doing a lot of the illustrations. 

Elsewhere on the canal I hear the Santa trips on Dragonfly are going really well and are fully booked now.  329 children will have travelled to find Santa and there is a rumour that he may appear at the Waitrose store at Wichelstowe this coming Saturday to switch on the Christmas lights at about 4pm. Swindon branch will have a stand there and you could sign up to join the Trust or support us by buying some Christmas cards or a calendar.

 Kath Hatton