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Tim Lewis

Forth and Clyde Closure

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IWA Statement

PRESS RELEASE:  FORTH & CLYDE CANAL CLOSURE

 

Issue date: 1st February 2018

 

The Inland Waterways Association, a national charity which campaigns about all navigable waterways, has told Scottish Canals that the current indefinite closure of the Forth & Clyde Canal is unacceptable.  This follows the claim by Scottish Canals that it does not have the funds necessary to repair two lift bridges.  IWA has written to Andrew Thin, Chairman of Scottish Canals, to ask him to identify budget and bring forward the repairs. 

 

The two lift bridges, at Twechar and Bonnybridge, are situated around the middle of the Scottish lowlands canal, and their closure would affect all local traffic, the hire boat trade and any seagoing craft wishing to traverse the canal from one coast to the other. 

 

The Forth & Clyde Canal was restored to navigation in 2001 following National Lottery funding as a Millennium project.  IWA considers that in order for Scottish Canals to fulfil its statutory requirement as navigation authority to keep the restored lowland canals in full working order, repairs to these two bridges should be carried out as a matter of urgency. 

 

IWA National Chairman, Ivor Caplan, said “IWA wishes to see through navigation on the Forth & Clyde Canal reinstated as soon as possible.  We are concerned about the viability of the hire boat trade with only half the canal available, the impact on those boaters based at Auchinstarry Basin, and increased future maintenance costs as nearby locks and other structures will suffer through lack of use if these bridges are closed for any significant length of time.”

 

Tim

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Scottish Canals need to tread carefully, the reopening was funded in part by the Millenium Commission and a grant contract will have been signed - whilst I haven't seen the contract it would be out of character if it didn't specify a project life of at least 30 years. The HLF contract for the Cotswold Canals specifies 80 years. 

Repairing the bridges will be cheaper than paying the clawback

 

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Just to offer a possibly cynical point of view

 

Scottish Canals asks the Scottish Parliament for more money

Scottish Parliament says no

Scottish Canals says it has no money and closes 40% of the Lowland Canal system forcing Scottish Parliament into a corner

Scottish Parliament stumps up or Scottish Canals faces the possibility of going under

 

Carillion anyone?

Edited by 13-10
  • Happy 1

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3 hours ago, magpie patrick said:

Scottish Canals need to tread carefully, the reopening was funded in part by the Millenium Commission and a grant contract will have been signed - whilst I haven't seen the contract it would be out of character if it didn't specify a project life of at least 30 years. The HLF contract for the Cotswold Canals specifies 80 years. 

Repairing the bridges will be cheaper than paying the clawback

 

Something similar happened with the Standedge Visitor Centre a few years ago. BW wanted to close it after only a few years use until HLF demanded their money back for breach of contract, around a million quid. So the Centre was kept open but with reduced  public availability and features.

 

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Agree with 13-10 and Ditchcrawler:)

Only 2nd hand knowledge, as boating down south at the moment. Scottish Canals are citing Health &Safety concerns, and there does seem to be a bit of confusion between their left and right hands as one of their boats was due to travel through one of the affected bridges, but higher management said "No".

For the last year, Bonnybridge lift bridge has only been operated when an electrician was on site. (I have no knowledge of the operation of Twecher) 

I suspect the H&S concerns are about the possibility of a bridge getting stuck in the raised position, rather than the possibility that it might drop on a passing boat.

 

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News article from the Scotsman

https://www.scotsman.com/news/transport/unsafe-bridges-force-indefinite-forth-clyde-canal-closure-1-4679741

 

Quote '“The restrictions will only temporarily impact our transiting customers, of which there are around 50 per year. "The vast majority of canal users, from runners and walkers to cyclists and kayakers, will be completely unaffected".



 

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7 minutes ago, 13-10 said:

News article from the Scotsman

https://www.scotsman.com/news/transport/unsafe-bridges-force-indefinite-forth-clyde-canal-closure-1-4679741

 

Quote '“The restrictions will only temporarily impact our transiting customers, of which there are around 50 per year. "The vast majority of canal users, from runners and walkers to cyclists and kayakers, will be completely unaffected".



 

I suppose if indeed there are only 50 boat movements per year you can understand the 'lack of urgency' to spend the money and make repairs.

Its a sad sign of the times when runners, cyclists and walkers are considered 'canal users' - they can run, cycle or walk on any footpath, boats can only go where there is water.

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I think that Scottish Canals are using slight of hand. There are probably only 50 'sea to sea' transits (Grangemouth to Glasgow) but I think there are considerably more boat movements up and down the canal.

It's a sad reflection of their priorities

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13 minutes ago, Alan de Enfield said:

I suppose if indeed there are only 50 boat movements per year you can understand the 'lack of urgency' to spend the money and make repairs.

Its a sad sign of the times when runners, cyclists and walkers are considered 'canal users' - they can run, cycle or walk on any footpath, boats can only go where there is water.

I think the 50 refers to boats transitting from sea to sea. The vast majority of boats using the bridges are hire boats and boats which moor on the lowland canals. 

Haggis 

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Problem is Haggis anybody reading that article would think 50 boats a year is not worth worrying about, as Alan de pointed out. In reality we know that's not the full story but it suits SC to play it down

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18 minutes ago, 13-10 said:

Problem is Haggis anybody reading that article would think 50 boats a year is not worth worrying about, as Alan de pointed out. In reality we know that's not the full story but it suits SC to play it down

Exactly. But Scottish Canals are experts at playing politics and twisting things to their advantage. They make no secret of the fact that the only boats they want are static residentials and they are more interested in property development than canals. I don't know if they have had the two "problem"  bridges maintained but I have it on good authority that the Leamington lift bridge has not had the regular maintenance it was supposed to have 

Haggis 

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This could sound the death of the boat hire business on the Lowland Canals if the closure is truly indefinite.  Why would anyone plan a boating holiday for 2018 with this uncertainty looming and a severe restriction of possible cruising area given the low  numbers of visitor moorings between Falkirk and Edinburgh. 

Edited by AllanD

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26 minutes ago, AllanD said:

This could sound the death of the boat hire business on the Lowland Canals if the closure is truly indefinite.  Why would anyone plan a boating holiday for 2018 with this uncertainty looming and a severe restriction of possible cruising area given the low  numbers of visitor moorings between Falkirk and Edinburgh. 

Ah, but Scottish Canals now runs the trip boats so that might enable them to find the money to fix the bridges 

Haggis 

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2 hours ago, 13-10 said:

News article from the Scotsman

https://www.scotsman.com/news/transport/unsafe-bridges-force-indefinite-forth-clyde-canal-closure-1-4679741

 

Quote '“The restrictions will only temporarily impact our transiting customers, of which there are around 50 per year. "The vast majority of canal users, from runners and walkers to cyclists and kayakers, will be completely unaffected".



 

Quite a good article, and containing more information than Scottish Canals have seen fit to release to boating organisations!

It would seem to confirm that the main worry is a bridge getting stuck in the raised position. The problem with Twechar is reported as a failing bearing, which I would have thought was a comparatively minor job to replace. Bonnybridge's problem is a failure to remain level, which can cause damage to the bridge. This is a basic design problem, as the deck is lifted by a hydraulic ram at each corner, so if anything sticks, the whole thing will tend to jam. Not easy to think of a robust solution to that one!

The fifty boats a year is a definite underestimate. I volunteer to work locks on the east side, and it's not unusual to have locks 17 -20 operated several times a week, which involves Bonnybridge being operated, often for several boats per lift of the bridge. ( I think the record last year was seven, three going up the locks and four descending.)

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Info on bridge openings in 2017:   Bonnybridge 373,  Twechar 127.  Smaller boats can get under Twechar bridge in the closed position so the number going west will be greater than that.

Edited by Waterway2go
spelling

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17 hours ago, 13-10 said:

Out of interest where did that info come from

Information comes via volunteer lock keepers.  No names quoted as Scottish Canals monitor all social media.

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51 minutes ago, Waterway2go said:

Information comes via volunteer lock keepers.  No names quoted as Scottish Canals monitor all social media.

Fair enough. Thanks for that

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On ‎01‎/‎02‎/‎2018 at 19:34, 13-10 said:

 

Scottish Canals asks the Scottish Parliament for more money

Scottish Parliament says no

Scottish Canals says it has no money and closes 40% of the Lowland Canal system forcing Scottish Parliament into a corner

Scottish Parliament stumps up or Scottish Canals faces the possibility of going under

Step one of your scenario has arrived.  Have heard that the Transport Minister has refused a request for more money.

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16 minutes ago, ronnietucker said:

My first year as a boater and half the canal system gets closed off.

I'm a jinx!  :D

Just enjoy your 1st year - its the 2nd year that'll snooker you (when they close the other half)

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Just now, Alan de Enfield said:

Just enjoy your 1st year - its the 2nd year that'll snooker you (when they close the other half)

By hook or by crook I want a shot in that Falkirk wheel at some point!  :D

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