LEADER’S COLUMN: Canal dream finally becoming a reality

As autumn sets in, and the pandemic is still very much with us, the news at home and across the world is pretty grim, so I’m glad to share a positive story this week that our bid to the English Heritage Lottery Fund for the canal regeneration has been successful, so work can begin to connect the existing five miles of canal to the national inland waterway network at Saul Junction.

As the story has been well covered in the press this week, a personal perspective from me – I recall when I moved here twenty years ago I was working from home with a young family and took an evening website design course at SGS College.

We had to create a website at a time when the internet was still relatively young – and one of my fellow students described to me his passion for the canal restoration project, which opened my eyes to a whole new world of canals, their heritage and the dreams of restoration.

It is so great to see that the dream of local people for all these years is finally becoming a reality.

It is so much more than just digging a long ditch in the ground, as we’ll see the creation of 21 hectares of biodiversity land, some £5.5 million per year boost to the local economy, and health benefits estimated at £8 million a year.

At the heart of this project is the mental, physical and economic wellbeing of our communities, and this is what the English Heritage Lottery Fund recognised in awarding the grant.

A reminder too that the local plan public consultation is running until December 16, with more information at stroud.gov.uk/localplanreview

On another note, if you are on a low income and have a positive Covid test and need to isolate at home, there is a £500 grant available for you – find out more online here: bit.ly/3o7scBp

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