The Inland Waterways Association (IWA), the charity that campaigns to protect and restore the inland waterways of Great Britain, welcomes the announcement made at this week’s Bridgwater Town Development Forum that £23.2m has been awarded from the Government’s Towns Fund to Sedgemoor District Council for the regeneration of Bridgwater.
The award includes £4m towards the regeneration of Bridgwater Docks, which IWA is keen to see used to provide new community and leisure facilities at the Docks and to support the restoration of both the Docks’ infrastructure and the historic Bascule Bridge that straddles the Docks. The award is subject to a satisfactory business case being prepared and signed off by the Government.
Waterways form a significant part of the country’s infrastructure, boosting local economies and bringing health and wellbeing benefits to the communities they touch. They provide a leisure amenity that everyone can enjoy. Nowhere is this more evident than at Bridgwater in Somerset, which has a combination of a river and historic quayside, the heritage Docks including the Bascule Bridge, and the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal which passes through 14 miles of delightful countryside to the county town of Taunton, where it joins the River Tone Navigation.
Chairman of the IWA West Country Branch, Ray Alexander, says “We are delighted to see the regeneration of Bridgwater Docks included as part of the Towns Fund award. Our vision for the future of the Docks and the Bascule Bridge is for them to become a vibrant and exciting part of Bridgwater and to help attract more visitors to the town and more boaters to use the Docks. We also wish to see the history and heritage of the Docks celebrated and used to good effect so that heritage and waterway enthusiasts, historians and many others will wish to visit Bridgwater and see the Docks and the Bascule Bridge for themselves.”
The Inland Waterways Association has strong links with Bridgwater through both its members and its volunteers, it recognises the importance that the Docks have to the Town and for some years has been lobbying the local authorities and others to secure the future of the Docks. Now that the award from the Towns Fund has been announced IWA is keen to work with the authorities to help optimise the opportunities provided by this funding.
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