I am grateful to Colin Poole for his response to my letter published on May 5, asking for the evidence justifying the claim that the proposed canal and boat lift will generate significant extra income from tourism.
Unfortunately I’m afraid that Colin hasn’t provided any actual evidence, but only assertions based on what I consider to be invalid comparisons with other canal tourist locations.
I can understand that people other than boaters will travel to see important sites of historical and international interest, such as Stoke Bruerne – including the Blisworth Tunnel – and the Anderton lift, especially if there is easy road access and some supporting infrastructure such as a museum, restaurant, pub, car parking, visitor centre and so on, but I have seen nothing to suggest that anything of the sort is planned for the Daventry Lift.
The council tries to make a very forced claim for historicity by referring to the original 18th century plans for a canal link to Daventry, but I can’t really see that being much of a draw for what will be an entirely modern construction.
I have looked at the information on the Daventry District Council website, and again so far as I can see there are plenty of assertions – for example, the somewhat amazing claim that the lift will be the equivalent of Anthony Gormley’s iconic Angel of the North sculpture standing alongside the Great North Road – but no evidence, and precious little detail.
For example, is it proposed to provide the sort of infrastructure that exists at the sites that Colin thinks are comparable – road access to the site of the lift?
A car park?
A visitor centre?
A cafe, coffee bar, or pub?
A heritage museum?
Boat rides up and down the Lift of the sort that Colin mentions for the hundreds of tourists that he seems to expect?
The council must have some evidence to support its claims for increased tourism but I can’t find it, though I think I remember some sort of consultancy report some years ago.
My request last time was simply to see the evidence, and I repeat that request.
Most importantly, what independent evidence is there that people in any numbers will want to take their barges up a one-way canal to park in Daventry?
Finally, Colin makes a good point about protecting the country park.
Some of his colleagues (Alan Hills and Chris Long) will remember that I became something of a nuisance to the council several years ago, probably before Colin was involved, in arguing for a really significant green buffer zone between any Church Fields development and the park.
A canal would be better than nothing certainly, but not in my opinion as good or as attractive as a hundred meter wide stretch of managed woodland.