A LEADING Kirklees councillor has voiced fears over future investment in the region's waterways.
The council's Cabinet member for the environment and transport, Clr Martyn Bolt, wants local MPs to lobby the Government to reverse plans to axe millions of pounds of vital grants that support the maintenance and restoration of canals and other waterways.
British Waterways, which is responsible for the trans-Pennine Huddersfield Narrow Canal and the Huddersfield Broad Canal, is facing grant cuts of £60m.
This is because of a reported £200m deficit facing the Government's Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs.
Clr Bolt said: "The restoration and reopening of the Narrow Canal in 2001 saw a £30m investment.
"It was the culmination of nearly three decades of dedicated hard work and commitment by canal groups, local councils, British Waterways and others to achieve what many people in the 1970s saw as an impossible dream.
"If these funding cuts go ahead it could turn into a nightmare and turn the clock back years.
"It is crucial that funding is provided to keep it properly and well maintained," added Clr Bolt.
"The restored canal is essential to the local economy. It is a huge tourist and visitor attraction and crucial to waterways network.
"It has created businesses and jobs for thousands of people and had spin-off benefits to communities along the corridor, as well as providing a vibrant and popular facility for canal enthusiasts."
Clr Bolt said the hard work which saw the canal reopened after being closed and derelict for nearly 60 years could be threatened by the Government's proposed cuts.
The importance to the local economy of the canal could not be overstated, he added.
"The restored canal network and towpaths not only benefit canal enthusiasts, but also other boaters, anglers, cyclists, canoeists, rowers, horse riders, runners and walkers.
"A select committee of MPs has launched an inquiry into inland waterways. This provides an opportunity for MPs and others to campaign against these cuts.
"I hope all our local MPs will highlight the importance to the area of a well-maintained canal and waterways network."
The work on the Narrow Canal was co-ordinated by the Huddersfield Canal Company, a partnership between Kirklees, Oldham and Tameside councils, British Waterways and Huddersfield Canal Society.