16 April 2007
An exciting step has been taken by the Cotswold Canals Partnership as part of the funding application for Phase 1b (Stonehouse to Saul) to the Big Lottery Fundís Living Landmarks programme. Fifteen people from the local community, who were selected randomly via postal invitation, took part in the first Citizensí Jury at the end of March.
The aim of the Citizensí Jury is to help the Partnership define what the local community want from the restoration of the canal between Stonehouse and Saul and then use this information to influence decisions along the way.
The Citizensí Jury is a well tested and proven method of giving public bodies the benefit of the intelligence, knowledge and experience of the local community. Over three days the Jury listened to information from 16 Ďwitnessesí on various aspects of the restoration and then had the opportunity to ask questions about their presentation.
At the end of the three days the Jury decided on 15 factors that they thought the Partnership should take into account during the restoration. The main concern was that of flooding, followed in second place by creating and conserving wildlife habitats and in third place was blending the landscapes, rural and urban. Balancing the needs of different towpath users and connecting the Cotswold Canals to the national network were also important to the Jury.
Following the completion of this process the report generated will be used to guide the progress and development of the project. If the bid to the Big Lottery Fundís Living Landmarks programme is successful it is hoped that the Jury will reconvene on an annual basis to ensure that the Partnership is adhering to the spirit of the report throughout the restoration project.
With an answer expected from the BIG Lottery Fund in October this year, a successful application would mean that the Phase 1b could be restored, reconnecting Stroud to the main network. The Cotswold Canals Partnership already has funding for Phase 1a from the Heritage Lottery Fund (£11.9 million) and SWRDA (£6 million) and expect to open the section of canal between Stonehouse and Brimscombe by 2009.
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