Mon and Brec Canal loses out in Levelling Up funding

Open letter to the Leaders of Newport City Council, Torfaen County Borough Council, and Caerphilly County Borough Council.

Monmouthshire, Brecon and Abergavenny Canals Trust is bitterly disappointed that local Councils have not applied for UK Government Levelling Up funding to restore our canal.

Our Trust congratulates the successful partnership – comprising Powys County Council, Wrexham County Borough Council, Denbighshire County Council and the Canal and River Trust, supported by local canal volunteer groups – which has secured over £20 million funding from the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund.

The funding will restore a four-mile stretch of the Montgomery Canal from the Wales-England border at Llanymynech to Arddleen and improve visitor facilities along the Llangollen Canal at Trevor Basin and Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.

Our Trust is pleased that these very worthwhile Welsh canal schemes have been financially supported.

This is, however, tinged with disappointment and sadness that our own local councils have not applied for this funding stream to restore our equally deserving Mon and Brec Canal.

We cannot help but compare and contrast this current situation to that which existed in 2007, when an enthusiastic partnership between Torfaen CBC, Newport City Council, Caerphilly CBC and British Waterways, supported by our Trust, submitted an application for £25 million Big Lottery funding to enable restoration of the canal.

The application successfully reached the final UK shortlist, but lost out to the Helix Canals Project in Falkirk, Scotland, now completed and a major tourist attraction.

It did, however, secure funding to carry out initial engineering design works for the scheme, which gives us a good base for future submissions.

In the face of huge financial pressures, staffing reductions and changes and, more recently, the pandemic, a once-dynamic Canal Regeneration Partnership, operating since 1995 has, in the last few years, lost all momentum.

We would urge Torfaen, Newport and Caerphilly Councils to re-energise the Partnership, so that funding opportunities such as the Levelling Up Fund can be explored and coordinated.

Revd. John Collier, Chairman
Monmouthshire, Brecon and Abergavenny Canals Trust
November 24th 2021

The press release / open letter can be downloaded as a PDF here – MBACT_Nov_2021_Levelling_up_press_release.pdf