Boaters launch petition to save moorings on popular Wakefield canal

Boaters on a popular stretch of canal in Wakefield have launched a campaign to save their moorings, following the decision to change the management of the site after more than 20 years.

Monday, 26th October 2020, 4:45 pm
Updated Wednesday, 28th October 2020, 3:49 pm
Moore than 500 people have signed a petition to save Broad Cut Moorings, after the Canal and River Trust revealed that they will offer only short term summer moorings in future years, instead of the current long term offer.

More than 500 people have signed a petition to save Broad Cut Moorings, after the Canal and River Trust revealed that they will offer only short term summer moorings in future years, instead of the current long term setup.

The Trust said they had taken the decision as a result of an increasing flood risk at the site, but residents at the site, close to Calder Grove, say they are aware of the risks and have taken necessary precautions.

A spokesperson for the group said: "We've always known there is a flooding issue and we've accepted that over the years.

Sign up to our daily Wakefield Express Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Boaters on a popular stretch of canal in Wakefield have launched a campaign to save their moorings, following the decision to change the management of the site after more than 20 years.

"Their thinking behind keeping it as a summer mooring is we could go somewhere else in winter. But people know what it's like.

"There is provision down there for 20 boats, currently there are 11 I think. Some people have been here 10, 20 or 25 years.

"There was obviously a big flooding problem up at Horbury, but people down there coped with that because we've known about it for a long time."

The boaters say they were aware that the Canal and River Trust were considering changing the mooring options at Broad Cut, but believed the idea was in its infancy - until they received emails telling them they would need to relocate.

They have been given 14 months to vacate the moorings, but say the layout of the canals in West Yorkshire means they have access to only a limited selection of alternative moorings.

And they fear that they will lose access to their community if they are forced to leave.

One boater, who asked not to be named, said: "It's just a lovely atmosphere. People love it down there, they come down from the pub and bring their kids down.

"We put a lot of time and effort into making the moorings look nice.

"When we had the big flood in 2015 we lost about 30m of wall, which we rebuilt ourselves.

"There's always been a community down there, it's been built over time. People have changed but there's still been a community spirit down there.

"A lot of walkers will engage the boaters in general chitchat, it's a nice feeling. There are some people we've known walk down the towpath for years and years."

The group have suggested alternatives to closing the site, such as fitting new types of moorings which they say would offer more flexibility and security during heavy floods.

But the Canal and River Trust say the "significant and increasing risk" of flooding makes the site too dangerous to keep open.

Sean McGinley, director of Yorkshire and the North East at the Trust, said: “We understand the frustrations of boaters at the Broad Cut moorings site and the decision to change from long term moorings to short term moorings in the summer only is not something we’ve taken lightly.

“However, there is a significant and increasing risk of flooding on this stretch of canal during the winter months, so we have little choice but to change the moorings before next winter.

“There are several reasons for the increased risk, including storm damage upstream, other waterways discharging into the canal during high rainfall and the height of the banks at the site itself.

“We have listened carefully to the boaters who use the site and are doing our best to mitigate the inconvenience wherever we can. Although we cannot let them stay over winter, we are allowing short term moorings during the summer.

“We have also suggested several alternative sites, and given them 14 months notice to help them to find new moorings.

“We appreciate this is not a wholly satisfactory situation, but the costs of improving the site and the canal upstream to make it safe is simply too prohibitive.”

To find out more, view the petition here.