A WATERWAY linking the River Thames with the Severn has been granted to Cotswold Canals Trust in a move that could see the canal finally restored.

The stretch of the Thames and Severn Canal, which is next to Inglesham Roundhouse and includes the junction with the River Thames and the first lock was gifted to the CCT, a registered charity, by British Waterways.

British Waterways bought the canal in 2002 but by February 2008 mounting problems elsewhere on the canal network and cuts in Government funding saw it pull out of the Cotswold Canals restoration scheme.

A £25million project is currently underway to restore six miles of the canal where it runs through Stroud. The project is being led by Stroud District Council with financial contributions from the heritage Lottery Fund and South West Regional Development Agency.

The project does not involve British Waterways which saw it as an opportunityi to get rid of its remaining property at Inglesham.

CCT workers have carried out a detailed survey of the land including agreed land boundaries, access rights and the route of the future towpath.

Aiden Johnson-Hugill, British Waterways development manager, said the total value of the land and rights granted were in the region of £50,000.

He added: "Through working in partnership and involving CCT from the beginning of the process, we have been able to protect the canal track.

‘We would particularly like to thank Ken Burgin, CCT’s chief executive, for his pragmatic and reasonable attitude that will ensure the public and boaters will able be able to enjoy this very special location."

Mr Burgin said he was grateful to British Waterways for the way they handled the sale of land.

He said: "With all the other issues they have, including underfunding, it would have been all too easy to sell the property and walk away.

"CCT now intends to develop proposals to restore Inglesham Lock and the entrance to the canal. Whatever is done will need to be of high quality and carried out with care."

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