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Thursday, February 18, 1999 Published at 10:57 GMT


Cash help for UK canals

Britain's canal network needs modernising

Bob Sinkinson: "The network still remains strapped for cash"
Millions of pounds are to spent to help save Britain's crumbling canals, it has been announced.

The government wants to tackle a 260m backlog of repairs which waterways campaigners say is putting jobs and a unique part of the country's heritage at risk.

Bob Sinkinson: "The new investment comes at a time of hardship"
Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott announced the programme in north London, after travelling by narrowboat down the Regent's Canal.

The measures are designed to increase the use of the 2000-mile network of canals and navigable rivers.

Thousands of jobs

Around two million people a year travel on the waterways, and millions more use the banks and towpaths for cycling and angling.

[ image: Deputy PM John Prescott]
Deputy PM John Prescott
The canals help to support some 600 pubs and restaurants and around 54,000 leisure industry jobs.

Much of the canal network was built in the 18th and 19th centuries to provide the transport links which helped drive forward the Industrial Revolution.

Campaigners say that the age of the canals, combined with neglect and underfunding, means they are now in a serious state of disrepair.

Mr Prescott was joined on his river journey by waterways minister Alan Meale and British Waterways chairman Bernard Harrison.

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