The Canal & River Trust has published its draft winter maintenance programme for 2017-18 and is asking boaters to take a look and give their feedback on the plans.

Throughout 2017-18 the Trust intends to spend £26.9m on dredging and repairs to bridges and embankments.  It will also include a focus on reservoirs, a crucial but often unseen part of the network, with work at 11 sites including Upper Bittell on the Worcester & Birmingham, Upper Foulridge on the Leeds & Liverpool and Hurleston on the Shropshire Union.  Dredging is planned across the network, at sites including the Macclesfield, Chesterfield, Lancaster and Grand Union amongst others, with a fund set aside for spot dredging.

The charity also plans to spend £17.4m on other works including replacing 180 lock gates, up from 166 last year.  The West Midlands, South East and Manchester & Pennine regions are seeing the greatest number of new lock gates, with 42, 36 and 30 lock leaves across their waterways.

Matthew Symonds, boating strategy and engagement manager at the Canal & River Trust, said: “Each winter the Trust concentrates effort on essential repairs and maintenance to the canals while the waterways are quieter.  Work can close the waterway and occasionally the towpath so before we finalise our closure plans we want to consult boaters to make sure as little disruption as possible is caused.”

Boaters can find the programme on the Trust’s website:  Stoppages can be viewed in three different ways: download a PDF of all stoppages; download maps of different regions; or use the search option to search by canal, region or date.  Boaters will be able to submit comments on individual stoppages via the search function.

Comments are welcome until Friday 16 June and will then be reviewed by the Trust before publishing a revised plan.  Boaters will then have a further chance to comment before the finalised plans are published at the end of the summer.

Matthew continues:  “I know at this time of year the last thing boaters will want to think about is winter, however we have a really full programme of repairs and maintenance planned so feedback on the programme is both welcome and helpful.”