22nd May 2008
Good afternoon and welcome to this special issue with just the two articles.
READ ALL ABOUT IT…THEN WRITE!
The Trust's Chief Executive Ken Burgin has asked that your attention is drawn to the following.
Stroud Chamber of Commerce
Those of you who read the Stroud News & Journal will know that Stroud Chamber of Commerce have been trying to delay rebuilding of the A46 canal bridge in Stroud. This has been a front page item over a number of weeks. The Trust is concerned that this negative noise will adversely affect the resolve of our key partners in GCC and SDC as they try to support the canal project, following the BW withdrawal.
In the paper's latest edition, the editor has asked readers for their opinions on the Chamber's stance. If you are thinking or writing you can either write to the Editor at 6 Lansdown, Stroud, Glos. GL5 1BE or go to the SNJ website at http://www.stroudnewsandjournal.co.uk and use the "Contact Us" page. Please contact as soon as you can so that, if possible, your comments are reported in next week's edition.
The following information can be used to formulate your comments, but please refrain from a straight copy & paste!
For starters, the main A46 route through Stroud is not going to be cut off as was originally claimed, and Stroud will not be closed for business. As far as we are aware that was never the case.
The A46 Bridge is the next big project following Oil Mills Bridge, and has been under preparation for a very long time – it is in the current year's budget and there is no guarantee that it could be deferred. It is key to the canal project that the whole is still capable of delivery and it is most important that HLF sees determination and resolve to make tangible progress following the BW's withdrawal.
The Stroud Chamber seem to see delaying the bridge by a year as a trivial matter; in fact it is likely to cost us the whole Phase 1A project. They have been told this, but their representatives continue to claim that they support the canal project whilst at the same time continue to try and sabotage the A46 canal bridge project.
Now that it looks as if traffic will be rerouted over the old canal bridge (an idea suggested by CCT), it should be possible to build the new bridge in one go, resulting in a much shorter period of traffic disruption – probably not exceeding six months, as against the nine to twelve months frequently being quoted.
Various assertions have been made about the design quality of the bridge with the implication that the Traders should have the right to choose the design. More than a dozen design options were reviewed by the Cotswold Canals Partnership Heritage Group, which comprises CCT and other bodies with a strong interest in heritage and quality of design. At no point was cost made an over- riding consideration. Four of the most suitable options were put forward for consideration by the public. Ignoring all this work and starting again would be pointless.
Even if it were possible to delay the bridge without destroying the project, the delay would simply increase the costs (millions of pounds of inflationary costs have already been wasted by BW due to their delays). There is no guarantee that any delay would be more or less helpful in terms of an economic downturn, nor much evidence that more time would bring any useful improvements.
Various suggestions have been made which would help to offset the potential adverse effects of traffic disruption on trade, but the Chamber continues to stick to its negative anti-bridge, anti-Local Authority message. For example, if Pike Bridge is anything to go by, lots of visitors will come and see the bridge being built, and this can be encouraged by exhibitions and publicity. Eventually, we should be celebrating the reopening of locks, bridges and sections of canal and that will attract people as well.
The Trust is keen for the project to proceed as planned, and can see no merit whatsoever in delaying things. All talk of horrendous tailbacks and gridlock by the Chamber, which is pure speculation at this stage, simply increases the risk of people staying away – precisely the result nobody wants!
A large collection of paintings – anything up to 100/150 in number and all by the one artist – are coming into our possession shortly, thanks to the generosity of the executors of the artist in question.
The initial problem is to find somewhere to store them on a temporary basis that is dry and secure whilst we attempt to catalogue them and sort out the damaged ones.
If any of you feel you have, or know of, somewhere suitable (preferably in the Stroud area) could you please let me know, 01452
505322 or firstname.lastname@example.org
That's it this time!