Public Meeting 9th February 2023
The meeting was attended by 50-60 people and Chaired by Cllr Penny Gowland
1) Constitution of new group and election of committee-
The group has been formally constituted as the West Bridgford Canal Group (WeBCan) covering Lady Bay and Gamston/Abbey Park sections of the Grantham Canal
The aims of WeBCAN will be:
Primary: To restore consistent water levels in the Lady Bay and Gamston /Abbey Park Canal.
Secondary: to maintain the Lady Bay and Gamston/Abbey Park sections of the Grantham Canal as an attractive amenity for local people and haven for wildlife.
These aims may be achieved through measures such as practical volunteering , fund raising and lobbying to support and activate measures to preserve and enhance the Lady Bay and Gamston/Abbey Park section of the Grantham Canal.
The group notes that the canal is owned by Canal and River Trust and any works on the canal may be limited by what they will allow.
Chair Penny Gowland, Vice Chair Sue Mallender, Treasurer Ruth Kerry, Secretary Kathleen Dunmore, Liaison with GCS Hugh Crawford, Liaison with Grantham Canal West End Group Chris Harries, Other officers Paul Abel. Marek Korczynski and Richard Mallender, plus 1representative of Abbey Park Community Association and 1 representative of Gamston and Holme Pierrepont parish council.
11 people in all, 5 was agreed as the minimum for a quorate committee meeting. In the event of a split vote the Chair will have the casting vote.
A copy of the constitution to be circulated with the minutes and to be amended to include a clause on GDPR.
2) Report from EA and GCS on progress with securing water supply from the River Trent and other voluntary activities planned and undertaken
GCS volunteer working party 4, 18, and 25 February and possibly 4 or 11 March, starting from outside EA Offices near Lock 1 and working up Lady Bay Canal potentially on to Gamston/Abbey Park section of the canal. Team will check culverts and clear overhanging vegetation as well as general tidying up.
It was thought that all culverts except the culvert closest to Lock 1 are now clear but this needs to be demonstrated (Action GCS?)
To volunteer for a workday Contact Grantham Canal West End Group (GCWEG) at Add Facebook Link or if not on Facebook email XX Future volunteer activity will be limited during the bird nesting season which runs till August but will then resume. GCWEG has insurance through CRT so there is no requirement for volunteers to pay to join GCS, although payments to GCS help fund provision of much needed equipment and contribute to enabling more substantial canal works and assist in securing matchfunding.
Richard Cooper EA advised on progress with the possible option of installing a solar pump at the EA end of the canal to facilitate bringing in water from the Trent during possible drought periods. Whilst this remains an option there are practical issues which need to be explored.
* Is the water in the Trent of sufficient quality to be safely fed in to the Grantham Canal RC following up
*. EA does not own its own building or the adjoining land on which a pump would stand. Both are owned by the County Council which may also be responsible for maintenance of the culverts. Will the County Council be prepared to accommodate a pump on its land ( RC following up, Penny Gowland County Councillor to also explore)
RC recommended that other options for accessing water should also be explored. If water could be brought in from the Thurl Beck (near Nottingham Airport) this would benefit both the Lady Bay and the Gamston/Abbey Park sections of the Canal. EA cannot help with funding this option but could advise on budget and on match funding opportunities (Report back from RC requested)
Related issue of unexplained swan deaths (from birdflu?) in the Grantham Canal and on the Trent. Dead swans should be reported (post meeting note Simon Withers of Friends of Victoria Embankment is a local swan expert).
Questions from the floor about Severn Trent’s (ST) responsibility for reducing water flow contributing to Summer drought and their responsibility for taking action if/when there are floods to which the canal may have contributed (as at Trent Boulevard end of Rutland Rd). RC has tried for several months to open dialogue with ST with no success. (Cllr Penny Gowland to write to ST and request co-operation)
3). Presentation from Notts Wildlife Trust (NWT)
Ben Driver gave a presentation outlining how NWT can work with local groups to provide a plan to manage their area for the benefit of wildlife through designation as a local nature reserve. The canal would remain in the ownership of CRT with whom NWT have a good working relationship. A similar project has just been undertaken for the Hickling section of the canal (copy requested). Ruschcliffe Council has a budget to pay for this type of work and application should be made through Paul Phillips (WeBCan to submit application for funding)
4) Possible volunteer activities this year
The Hook is an example of a local nature reserve. Friends of the Hook have a programme of year round volunteer activity (including an invertebrate survey and butterfly count) and we should seek to learn from them and potentially carry out our own wildlife and environmental monitoring, (Sue Mallender to follow up)
It would also be useful to carry out a survey of canal towpath users and find out how often they walk/cycle along the canal towpath, what they value about the canal and what use they make of other local environmental amenities. GCS mechanically counts numbers of people passing along the canal at various checkpoint. The Hickling group (GCWRG) has carried out such a survey and it would make sense to learn from their experience (Kathleen Dunmore to follow up)
5) Fundraiser activities
Paul Abel made a presentation about the newly formed Grantham Canal Fish Conservation Society (GCFCS) which has started a Crowdfunder campaign to pay for a solar pump which will draw water from the Trent and protect fish in the Lady Bay section of the Grantham canal at all times. Paul explained that money raised in this way can help secure match funding from a range of public bodies including the Environment Agency and Sport England. (See attached leaflet for more details)
6) Need for Plan B – if there is still potential for drought this summer
There is no certainty that a further drought can be avoided this summer. This means that there is a threat to wildlife for whom the canal is their home. It is not part of the remit of any of the organisations present in the room (EA, GCS, NWT) to attempt to rescue wildlife under threat. Nor does CRT take any responsibility in this matter. (WebCan Committee to try to find organisations which do have expertise in this matter and invite them to make a presentation at the next meeting)
Various people expressed their outrage and frustration that the Lady Bay and Gamston/Abbey Park sections of the Grantham Canal have been allowed to get to the point where the canal alternately runs dry and floods. There is no clear explanation for why this is the case, merely a range of hypotheses which need to be tested. Given the plethora of statutory and voluntary organisations with an interest in this matter it is difficult to discern a clear path as to what will be done by whom to ensure that there is not a sequence of drought and flood events. (WeBCan Committee to investigate and report back to next meeting)
The Chair expressed her thanks to all speakers and to the organisations they represent for their efforts on behalf of the Lady Bay and Gamston/Abbey Park sections of the Grantham Canal.
8) Date of next meeting – 7.30 pm Thursday 13 April 2023 at the Poppy and Pint