Monday, 25 January 2016

Showcasing the Wildlife Trail at Studley Grange and Ideas on Raising Funds

Kate Jones, our project leader for the Studley Grange Wildlife Trail, was invited to set up a display for the networking session of the local Royal Wootton Bassett and Cricklade Area Board Meeting last week. This gave her the opportunity to show off some of the work that local young people have been doing for the project. She took along some of the draft Interpretation Boards with a variety of illustrations done by students at Swindon College, some brass rubbing plaques, made from designs by local primary school children and bee hotels and bird boxes made by local schools and scout/guide groups. Richard and Judy, local WBCT members with a keen interest in ecology, supported Kate at the event. I understand that it was received with some very positive remarks, noting that it was a good resource for the community for the future and a great project for community involvement.  It also gave Kate the chance to explain that there is no access at the moment to the site, but that we hope work will re-commence in April, weather permitting. 

We should hear by the end of this week about one of the funding bids for Pewsham so all fingers crossed for that.  Also this week we have an important meeting planned to discuss next steps at the Peterborough Arms.  I am pressing on with writing bids, large and small for funding for various projects but as we know these things can take a long time and have varying results! 

I asked in Dragonfly for members’ thoughts on the Trust Annual Draw for 2016 and whether we should change the format.  I had an interesting response today from a member suggesting online draw tickets which I shall look into. Apparently they are simpler and easier to buy.   It is always good to hear other views and get ideas.

Those of you who receive Dragonfly magazine will have noticed that I advertised some surplus paving slabs in exchange for a donation to the Trust. I can report that these were snapped up quickly with a generous donation.  Obviously a good forum for advertising.   Maybe other people have items to clear out for the benefit of the Trust?


Kath Hatton


Saturday, 16 January 2016

2016 on the Wilts & Berks

Firstly to wish you a Happy New Year. I hope it is going to be a successful one for the Wilts & Berks canal restoration –there is much going on so I thought I would summarise some of the projects that will be high up the list during 2016.

The Wilts & Berks Canal Trust reorganisation is definitely centre stage at the moment – please see the WBCT web site for more information about how you could be a part of it.

Melksham Link- Paul Lenaerts and the team are currently completing the final chapters of the Environment Statement and very shortly will be submitting it and the drawings package to Wiltshire Council’s planners. Separately and in parallel the Masterplanning team are working on the plans for enabling development.

Pewsham Locks: Two funding applications are in process at present so we hope that  this brings success in the form of funds to progress the scheme. At the other end of this canal section WBCT intend to apply for planning consent to complete the canal restoration around Double Bridge. This work will include provision of a new spillweir and habitat mitigation.
The habitat management programme for the canal north of the A4 at Pewsham is continuing this winter with the final part scheduled for next year.

Dauntsey Lock. You can expect some real progress with the Peterborough Arms this year  with a plan to use the building in the short term while funding is sought to carry out the major refurbishment.
At Seven Locks it is planned to revive the work to complete the planning application to complete Locks 3 & 4 and to apply for the work on Lock 2.

At Templars Firs we hope to start the preliminary works on the extension to the existing canal. 
The Studley Grange project  will continue with the final excavations for the canal being completed in the spring and first works started for Bincknoll Lane bridge.

Wichelstowe. The delayed project to connect East Wichel to Westleaze will start as soon as Swindon Borough Council complete the agreement with their joint venture partner Barratt Homes.

Elsewhere the team are discussing plans for Swindon Town Centre, Abingdon, Grove and starting further discussions following the recent floods to see how the restored canal could be used to help prevent flooding.

Finally to add congratulations to John Laverick & Mike Lee for their well deserved awards in the New Year’s Honours list.

Ken Oliver