Registered Charity No. 702429

DIRECTORS' REPORT - A.G.M. 2005

After the excitements of 2003 the year ending 31st December 2004 was one of consolidation and steady achievement. The Directors concentrated on progressing existing projects and furthering the restoration of both canals. Considerable effort was devoted to the planned rebuilding of Cappers Bridge, reaching an agreement with HM Customs and Excise over the payment of VAT, land negotiations and progressing the suite of consultantís reports on the Hatherton Canal. Practical restoration work continued, principally at Tamworth Road in Lichfield.

At the Annual General Meeting Mike Battisson, Mike Brown and Peter Magee were elected as Directors having previously been co-opted. Rob Davies stood down after six years service.

Contacts with local authorities were improved through the year. The quarterly meetings with officers of Lichfield District Council continued. Particular stress has been placed on ensuring that the line of the canal is properly protected in the new Local Development Framework. The importance of including the canal in the planned construction of the Lichfield Southern Bypass has been emphasised. In addition satisfactory meetings were held with officers of South Staffordshire District Council and officers and members of Cannock Chase District Council. The Trust has responded to the many planning applications which might impinge on the restoration.

After much negotiation our planning application for the rebuilding of Cappers Bridge was granted and contract preparation was progressed. Delays were caused by the difficulty in assembling the complicated land portfolio and finalising details of the design with local residents and the District Council. Work should start by May 2005 and construction should be completed within 6 months. Lichfield Cruising Club has co-operated fully in the planning of this work. Meanwhile discussions have continued with the Club with the prospect of ultimately relocating moorings from the canal to an off-line boat haven.

On the Lichfield Canal the main restoration effort has been concentrated on Tamworth Road. The Trust held a Canal Camp there in August and has been supported by visits from several volunteer work groups. The Trustís own volunteers have worked regularly on the whole length from Lock 24 to the A38 where various sections of waterway and lock walls have been rebuilt, assisted by several large donations of bricks. Hedges have been laid throughout and excavation works carried out between Locks 25 and 24. A flooding incident at Darnford Lane required remedial work and reinstatement of the bank. Hedgelaying and clearance work has also been carried out at Fosseway Lane. On the Hatherton Canal regular monthly work parties have kept the section under the Trustís management in good order. Hedging and tree control has been assisted by 3 members undertaking chainsaw training.

The team from Ove Arup has progressed work on the suite of studies on the Hatherton Canal. This is extremely detailed and time-consuming but we can expect the reports to be presented in the middle of 2005. These will be invaluable when the Trust meets possible funders.

Work has continued on assembling the land portfolio. On the Hatherton Canal purchase of land at Norton Hall Farm was completed and discussions were progressed with two further adjacent land owners. Steps have also been taken to safeguard the route in the Bridgtown and Churchbridge areas. On the Lichfield Canal, in addition to the very detailed work required at Cappers Bridge, discussions have continued with several landowners. The proposed Brownhills Bypass has opened the opportunity for land purchase at Ogley.

A variety of funding initiatives has generated a satisfactory inflow of funds to cover the routine requirements of running the Trust. Protracted discussions over the Trustís VAT status have continued and a satisfactory outcome will be reported next year. The Marketing Group has continued to raise funds through several initiatives and has ensured that the sales and promotions stand has appeared both at major waterways events and at local ones. The new trailer donated by Huddersfield Canal Society is proving a great asset. This was handed over in March when the Trust hosted a meeting of the Northern Canals Association. A very successful event was held at Huddlesford in October in association with the Cruising Club and Lichfield District Council.

The Trust has continued to enjoy a good relationship with the national waterways press and with the local media. The website goes from strength to strength and our quarterly magazine has maintained its usual level of excellence. Membership has continued to increase steadily from 1400 to almost 1500 at the end of the year.

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