Bedford and Milton Keynes Waterways project has been given a renewed boost by their ‘champions.’
Dr Ann Limb told members and supporters of the B&MK Trust at its annual general meeting in Newport Pagnell on Thursday that she hoped the project would eventually be taken forward – and perhaps accelerated. She said: “If I can do that, I will as your champion.”
SEMLEP is the public partnership of business, commerce and local authorities responsible for driving forward the economic regeneration of the region, and the waterway fits into its aims for the economic regeneration of Marston Vale and Bedford town centre. Dr Limb described SEMLEP as “a coalition of the willing” with eleven local authorities serving 2 million people who “need to be connected”.
She said: “What we share in common is a desire to see the benefits of growth activity which are working to better the environment, new housing, better housing and transportation links for the wider economic benefits of the region. The waterway is not just about digging a canal; it is very much more than that.”
Highlighting the business opportunities, leisure activities and economic and environmental benefits the waterway would generate, Dr Limb said she had no difficulty in trying to support the aims of the Trust.
Acknowledging the difficult times and the absence of vast amounts of money it was important to make sure that “a climate of collective endeavour” prevailed by bringing partners, including developers, together. “We can drive and champion your cause. You need advocates to move that cause forward.”
Dr Limb said the Trust should take heart from the Government’s green light for the east-west railway project from Oxford, Bletchley, Milton Keynes and Bedford – a project which had started as a passion from a small group of people and a project which had parallels with the B&MK. “Things can turn round. Money can be found.”
She added: “So, massive support for you, emotionally, spiritually and as part of us being a champion of your cause.”
Earlier, Sir Samuel, recently retired Lord Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, said: “I am honoured and delighted to be part of this august organisation.”
He went on to outline a brief history of his great, great, great grandfather’s vision to create the waterway between the Grand Union Canal and the River Great Ouse in Bedford, a scheme which stalled until revived in the 1990s. The earlier Samuel was MP for Bedford.
“My hope is the current scheme will have more success. If there is anything I can do to forward it I will do so.” he added.