'Unlock canal potential' says Rowen

Date published: 31 May 2009

Rochdale MP Paul Rowen has thrown his weight behind the campaign to persuade United Utilities to stop restricting water going into the lock at Summit in Littleborough. Mr Rowen has called for an urgent meeting with United Utilities and British Waterways to resolve the issue that could lead to a boost for tourism in Littleborough.

Mr Rowen recently met with Ray McDonald, the lock-keeper, and John Kay, Vice Chairman of Littleborough Canalside Development Group, to see the problems first hand. He said: “The Rochdale Canal is one of the jewels in our crown, but the severe restrictions mean that we are having to turn away much needed tourists, affecting businesses in Littleborough.

"The booking system that Ray has to operate means that we can only let four boats pass each day.

"The waste water also contributes to flooding in Littleborough when the River Roch swells. I hope that common sense will prevail.”

John Kay said: “It is a source of great frustration for the lock-keeper and our group. One of the greatest assets we have in Littleborough is the canal and these restrictions mean that we are not maximising the potential.

"I am pleased that Paul is backing our campaign; the equipment to divert the water is already in place, but it has been padlocked to prevent use.

"When the water level rises it flows over the stone barrier and runs to waste in the River Roch.

"In wet periods the river overflows further down stream in Littleborough and Rochdale.

"What a waste.

“If Ray is permitted to open the valves then surplus water can be diverted into the canal and stored there for use when needed. It is even metered so that the amount used would be known if United Utilities were to insist on being paid for this waste water.

"It is difficult to understand what the downside is for either United Utilities or British Waterways.

"Businesses in Littleborough are being deprived of the business of the tourists who would visit if they were not being discouraged by the delays in getting through Summit Lock.”

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