Conservatives defend canal plan for Daventry

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A motion to halt work on Daventry’s canal project put forward by Labour, was voted down at the district council.

Councillors were presented with the motion by Labour’s Wendy Randall and Ken Ritchie.

The motion stated DDC aims to attract business and visitors to Daventry town, and asked councillors to note the costs incurred by the council working on the canal plans, that no external funding had been found, and that the Eastern Way playing field is a ‘valuable asset’.

The motion went on to mention the 2010 poll in Daventry on the canal and waterspace, and a recent petition against it.

Finally, it asked the council to recognise the strength of local opposition, the costs, and the impact on the Eastern Way playing field, that work should be halted until there is ‘extensive public consultation’ leading to a further referendum on the matter.

In response, Conservative councillors defended the canal, stating it was designed to enhance the town centre, and act as an anchor to draw in things people wanted like restaurants, cafes and shops.

They also pointed out it was wrong to say no external funding had been found, because none had yet been sought as no planning application had been approved.

Cllr Millar said: “We’ve been talking about the Town Centre Vision since 2002.

“The town has greatly increased in population and will continue to do so, but the town centre hasn’t kept pace.”

Cllr Millar said the Town Centre Vision, with its proposed canal had the backing of all parties at the time and said the plans have been well-known for many years, and throughout that time voters have continued to elect Conservatives backing the plan.

In Daventry town, the Conservatives hold eight seats, while Labour have two and UKIP also hold two.

Across the district as a whole the Conservatives dominate the council, holding 30 of the 36 seats. Labour hold three overall, UKIP two and the Liberal Democrats one.

The motion made reference to a petition signed by 1,500 against the canal project. But Cllr Diana Osborne pointed out that would represent only a fraction of the approximately 25,000 people living in Daventry town.

It also talked about the ‘local referendum’ of town residents in 2010 on the issue of the canal.

But Cllr Brown said: “It wasn’t a ‘referendum’, it was a parish poll organised by the town council.” And said it disenfranchised people outside Daventry, in particular Norton parish, where the canal would also pass.

The motion was defeated.