A special cruise along the Coventry Canal was hosted by the Living Environment Trust recently in a bid to forge a new partnership to help improve the waterway and surrounding area. Representatives from the Canal & River Trust, Coventry City Council, Coventry Canal Society, Coventry Sports Foundation and the Coventry City of Culture 2021 Bid joined members of the environental charity on a five-and-half-mile trip aboard the Coventrian narrowboat.

Beginning at the Swan Lane Wharf and travelling towards the Canal Basin, the journey aimed to highlight what could be done to maintain and develop the area better if different groups were to join forces. Guests on the boat were receptive to working together, viewing the canal as a valuable asset for the city, particularly as Coventry pursues the coveted title of City of Culture.

“This stretch of canal hasn’t been maintained as we would all like since the clean-up boat, owned by the Canal & River Trust and operated by the Living Environment Trust on a weekly basis, broke down over a year ago,” explained Raffaella Tentindo of the Living Environment Trust. “A team of volunteers from Coventry Canal Society have been going out monthly, but usually only from Hawkesbury Junction to Swan Lane Wharf due to timing issues. We felt that it was important to bring this to everyone’s attention and create a partnership that could work for the good of the area.”

“The trip was an extremely positive start to what will hopefully be an excellent partnership between all of the organisations,” she added. “The Coventry Canal really is a valuable asset for the city and one that is extremely popular for boaters as well. This was recognised by everyone on the cruise and they all wanted to see what could be done and how we could all work together for the best of the canal and Coventry.”

Peter Mathews CMG, chair of the Canal & River Trusts West Midlands Waterway Partnership, agreed: “The trip was very enjoyable and a great opportunity for us to see the local issues and discuss them with the various stakeholder groups. We were really pleased with the genuine affection and enthusiasm the local community has for this stretch of canal. Like them we really want the canal to be as good as it can be so that it can help to attract visitors, boost the local economy and offer local people a relaxing enjoyable place to get away from it all. We will certainly try and play our part in bringing the area back to life and look forward to working together as we drive forward our mutual interest in the canal system for the benefit of the community.”

The next stage of the plan is for the Canal & River Trust to source a working boat that can be used to reinstate the weekly maintenance regime. All of the organisations intend to work in partnership in order to promote corporate adoptions of canal sections along stretch of waterway covered by the journey.

Councillor Linda Bigham, cabinet member for community development said, “The canal is a wonderful asset in our city and I know it’s is enjoyed by local people and visitors alike. I’m delighted that a number of organisations are keen to work together to make sure it gets the care and attention it needs and deserves to ensure it can go on acting as an escape from the hustle and bustle for people.”