Montgomery Canal restoration gets £16m Budget boost

The region's tourism could be getting a major boost after the Chancellor confirmed £16m to restore a canal to its former glory.

The Montgomery Canal
The Montgomery Canal

The funding for the Montgomery Canal, announced in Wednesday’s Budget, has been hailed as a milestone in the waterway’s history and will reconnect it to the national canal network near Ellesmere.

Rishi Sunak’s Budget also included up to £50,000 to develop plans to bring the Oswestry to Gobowen railway line back into use.

Other announcements saw confirmation of funding for a specialist Community Diagnostics Centre in Telford, as well as ‘Project Gigabit’ – targeted to improve county internet speeds.

A project to bring tourists to the World Heritage Site at Pontcysyllte Aqueduct has also received millions of pounds in 'levelling up' funding.

The plan, for the Trefor Basin and surrounding area, includes a visitor centre, glamping, and a “tree top walk”.

Running from Newtown through Welshpool and on through Shropshire to the Llangollen canal, the 'Monty' closed in the 1930s. Work to reopen it began in 1969 and has been continued by volunteers for more than five decades.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in his Budget speech that Powys County Council’s Levelling Up Fund bid, supported by the Canal and River’s Trust, has been successful.

Craig Williams, Member of Parliament for Montgomeryshire, said: "Today represents a milestone day in Montgomeryshire’s history, after decades of local campaigning. I am thrilled that the Levelling Up Fund bid to restore and reconnect Montgomery Canal to the national network has been successful. This will transform Montgomeryshire’s economy by opening up so many opportunities, and will finally see one of the UK’s most picturesque attractions returned to its former glory."

Close to £16m worth of investment granted by the UK Government will be a major contributory factor to the final aim of restoring the Canal to the national canal network, he said.

The project will specifically focus on progressing the restoration of navigation to a 4.4-mile section from the Wales-England border at Llanymynech to Arddleen.

Craig Williams MP on the Montgomeryshire Canal at Welshpool. Photo: Phil Blagg Photography

Nationally, Mr Sunak promised to address the rising cost of living as he reaped the benefits of a stronger-than-expected recovery from the economic hit of Covid-19.

The Chancellor pledged a major increase in public spending, tax cuts for businesses, and investment to create a “new economy” based on high skills and wages following the pandemic.

After widespread condemnation of the decision to cut £20 a week from Universal Credit, Mr Sunak set out plans to reform the benefit to enable claimants to earn more without losing as much of it – a measure he claimed amounts to a £2 billion tax cut for the lowest paid.

But Labour hit out at the package of measures announced by the Chancellor, which will cut the price of a bottle of Champagne and slash taxes for banks.

Mr Sunak acknowledged that the tax burden will reach its highest level as a share of gross domestic product (GDP) – a measure of the size of the economy – “since the early 1950s” but insisted “I don’t like it” and stressed there have to be limits to the scope of the state.

But he committed to total departmental spending growing by £150 billion a year in cash terms by 2024-25.

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