It's been a while since I have been in touch but as you may have already seen on social media we are tentatively making a start with work parties again this Friday, 25th June, with a Himalayan Balsam bashing session near to Bridge 70 at Crumpwood. We joined an enjoyable evening session on the Caldon at Deep Hayes led by Canal & River Trust last week and are hoping that some of their volunteers will join us for this session as well.
This will be a fairly easy way to get us back into the swing, where we can easily maintain social distancing and not need to use or share tools. It would be great to see as many of you as possible, not least so that we can discuss what sort of activities people are keen and comfortable to do in future months. I'd also appreciate comments on when people would like to do work parties. My own work-related availability means that I can only run them on Monday or Friday for the foreseeable future. Which would suit you best? Conversely, would anyone else like to offer themselves up to lead the group on other days of the week? it would be great if we could get back to doing work parties several times a month, especially as we start to catch up on vegetation management after more than a year away from the site.
We do have some COVID-related restrictions on Friday's activity with the obvious one being that we will need to meet on site, not in Denstone as we cannot allow people to share vehicles unless they have arrived together. As regular volunteers will know, we cannot cope with more than a couple of vehicles on site so we ask attendees to walk from either Denstone or Alton if you are able to.
Meet on site at Bridge 70 at 10am having made your own way on foot. The site is a little over a mile walk down the old railway track from either Denstone or Alton. When you see the new section of towpath next to milepost 23, walk down this to the bridge. Please contact me if you need to bring a vehicle to site. We will need to ensure that access for South Staffs Water vehicles is maintained throughout the day, so may need to turn people back if too many vehicles turn up.
The session will run from 10 - 3, please bring your own lunch and drinks, if staying for the day. You are more than welcome to come for just an hour or two if you want to. Please bring your own gloves if you can. We will not be handing out hi-viz jackets or asking volunteers to sign in on this occasion, though I will be recording emergency contact numbers for everyone as they arrive. Please note that there are no refreshment facilities or toilets on site, as we do not have use of the SSW toilet at the Weir on this occasion.
If you have any questions please phone me, Steve Wood, on 07976 805858 or email email@example.com.
We've had lots of questions about the Froghall planning application, which has been deferred a number of times and has now been pushed back to the July committee meeting. The applicant has recently submitted over 50 pages of new documentation dismissing the viability of restoring the canal. We are still working on our response to this, which will be added to our website in the next few days.
You can of course still respond to the latest documents online or by sending an email to the local authority firstname.lastname@example.org. Scroll down past over 250 objections, to the bottom of the page and look at the documents dated 03/06/2021. Note there are two applications, the main planning application, SMD/2020/0684 and related listed building consent, SMD/2020/0685, but you can send a single email to comment on both. The key one to respond to is the planning application. Comments should ideally be in by 29th June, which is a week today, but we would not be surprised if the submission deadline was extended again so if you miss this date, send your comment in anyway, using the email address and application reference above.
Many thanks to all of you who have submitted comments so far, and have helped publicise the issue. it is fair to say that we have been overwhelmed by the level of support, but this does not guarantee anything and we need to keep on fighting in whatever ways we can.