Montgomeryshire’s MP Craig Williams and Assembly Member Russell George have pledged their full support for the restoration of the Montgomery Canal.
The Conservative politicians are backing a bid by the Montgomery Canal Partnership for the canal restoration to be included in the projects supported by the Mid Wales Growth Deal.
The Conservative Government has pledged an initial £55 million for the Growth Deal and it’s hoped the Welsh Government will match that amount.
Mr Williams and Mr George discussed the canal restoration at a positive meeting in Welshpool on Friday with Montgomery Canal Partnership chair John Dodwell and Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust chair Michael Limbrey.
Mr Williams pledged to arrange a meeting with Welsh Secretary Simon Hart andParliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales David Davies in London and to sponsor a Westminster debate about the canal restoration.
He and Mr George will also liaise with Powys and Ceredigion County Councils about progress with the Growth Deal.
“I was delighted to mention the Montgomery Canal in my maiden speech in the House as a top priority for me as MP,” he said. “I am coming late to the battle, as so much hard work has been done, but I am determined to ensure that the canal reaches Newtown.”
Mr George also pledged to arrange an event and debate at the Senedd to make fellow AMs aware of the importance of the canal restoration to tourism and the economy of Montgomeryshire.
“Tourism is such an important part of the Mid Wales economy and it’s crucial to realise the ambition of restoring the Montgomery Canal,” he said. “I shall continue to champion the restoration.”
Mr Dodwell estimated that restoring the canal to Newtown would generate an annual visitor spend of £5 million, create 128 full-time jobs and be a catalyst for the regeneration of the Upper Severn Valley corridor.
The estimated cost of the remaining restoration work in Shropshire is £15m using contractors or £5m using volunteers. In Wales, the restoration to Welshpool would cost £24m with contractors or between £8-10m with volunteers.
More than half of canal’s 35 miles have been restored and this year marks the 40thanniversary of the opening of the Prince of Wales section outside Welshpool.
Mr Dodwell said it was hoped to complete the restoration to the town within 10 years before moving on the fourth phase from Garthmyl to Newtown.
He thanked both politicians for their enthusiastic support and advice. “The series of positive meetings we have held with elected representatives and partner organisations this week has given fresh impetus to the campaign to restore the Montgomery Canal,” he said.