Registered Charity No. 702429

DIRECTORS’ REPORT - A.G.M. 2007

In 2006 the Trust achieved two major successes with the completion of Cappers Bridge in Whittington at the end of March and then eventual agreement with the County Council for provision of a crossing to take the Lichfield Canal beneath the new Lichfield Southern Bypass at Birmingham Road – at the Trust’s expense, of course! The suite of studies on the Hatherton Canal compiled for us by Ove Arup was finally completed and released to us in September. In January we applied to the Big Lottery Fund for a grant of £15m to fund the ICON Scheme – Inter-Connecting Canals between Birmingham and Staffordshire. Sadly, although we got through the first round we fell at the second hurdle.

We continued to have meetings with officers of Staffordshire County Council, Lichfield District Council and City Council, South Staffordshire District Council and Cannock Chase District Council to ensure that they are fully aware of our plans for the restoration of both our canals. Discussions continue with Lichfield Cruising Club towards the goal of creating off-line lagoon moorings for their members.

In February Phil Sharpe resigned as Vice-chairman, and at the AGM in April he stood down as a Director, although he continued as work party organizer until September. The Trust is deeply grateful to Phil for his many years of commitment, hard work and dedicated service. In September Bob Mullarkey, who had been a member of the management committee for some time, was co-opted as a Director, with particular interest in building work and Health & Safety. We have been very glad to welcome Stefan Szulc as a part-time member of the team, helping Mike Smith with survey work. We are still seeking a Publicity Officer so if anyone has an urge to be a journalist please let us know.

Mike Smith, our Land Officer had another very busy year. The purchase of Top Lock Cottage at Ogley Junction, Brownhills was completed on 10th January. Work continued to reconcile some discrepancies with the property boundaries. The cottage was re-valued prior to mortgaging it with the Charity bank. A 50-year lease on the former canal land between Cricket Lane and the A38 was arranged with the Lichfield City Council in June, and survey work has been carried out to find an alternative route for the Hatherton Canal across the Little Wyrley Estate. The Trust has made 2 offers to purchase additional land. Negotiations with 9 landowners have continued.

Physical restoration work by our work party volunteers continued on almost every weekend, assisted by seven weekend visits from Waterway Recovery Group, plus a one week Canal Camp at Easter. On the main Lichfield Canal site at Tamworth Road work continued on all 3 locks. In addition to weekend work Brian Davis, Barry Parkes and Keith Grice were frequently to be found there mid-week. After excavation and inspection Lock 24 was filled in again with soft soil to conserve the brickwork and limit the need for maintenance work. In due time the future of Lock 24 will be determined when there is a clearer idea on how the canal will achieve a crossing of Cricket Lane. British Waterways donated a pair of old lock gates complete with beams to be installed at the tail of the lock for visual effect. The Environment team under the direction of Mike Battisson planted bulbs under the hedgerow and along the roadside to improve the appearance of the area and ensure an attractive through route for walkers.

In September Bob Mullarkey took over as Health & Safety Officer, with all risk assessments and method statements being in place before work commenced and no accidents reported on any of the sites.

On the Hatherton Canal Denis Cooper and his team of volunteers kept the towpath and hedges regularly maintained. The work was suspended for a short while due to new British Waterways safety regulations concerning volunteers working on their land. BW were happy in the end with our safety policy and site leader. Peter Magee set about arranging for driver training courses off site for our volunteers for the site dumpers and JCB 804.

Peter has kept the mechanical plant regularly maintained as it is used on most weekends for restoration work and also used for driver training on WRG weekends. Our trusty old JCB3C is still performing well but is in need of a little TLC to the wiring. Other than the usual maintenance all our equipment has performed well, which is a tribute to our careful drivers.

The Marketing Group under the direction of Dave Moore has taken our sales and promotions stand to most of the major waterways events including the NEC, Crick, Braunston and the IWA National Festival at Beale Park plus many local shows. Last year we introduced a new line in the form of Boatwomen’s Bonnet kits and May Brown and her daughter Kathryn spent many hours cutting out fabric and putting the kits together. (We could not have done it without them). The Marketing team works very hard promoting the Trust and we are always grateful for the work that they do and the time they so generously give, particularly during summer weekends. We were very disappointed in September when our boat gathering at Huddlesford had to be cancelled because the towpath was closed by the Network Rail work. However, we shall definitely be holding one in 2007 and we hope to see you all there. We had a very successful and enjoyable social evening at Whittington Village Hall in November, with music and entertainment from the Caldon Canal Stompers and excellent food prepared by Pat Barton and Terry Robertson.

Our website continues to expand and is regularly updated. Bob Williams’ PowerPoint presentations are still in great demand and are taken to a wide variety of local groups. Our membership increased steadily, going from 1,536 in January to 1,670 by December with 993 of those members gift-aiding their subscriptions, allowing us to claim a very worthwhile tax benefit from the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Sue Williams
Secretary

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