THANK you for highlighting the current existential threat to our canal system (Funding cuts spark fear for canal future, Keighley News, July 20).

One of the real pleasures of living in Keighley is the experience of the seven miles of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. It offers recreational and leisure opportunities, an environmental corridor and aesthetic richness – just think of the number of photographs appearing in the Keighley News that feature the canal!

But we only have the canal to enjoy because of the foresight of Barbara Castle, who coincidentally received her secondary education in Bradford. She took on the position of Minister of Transport at a time when commercial traffic on the canal system was in decline. She was presented with a ‘Beeching plan’ for the canals which would have led to the retention of a mere one third of the canal system. She rejected the plan, arguing that although the potential for commercial traffic was limited, the canals should be retained as “leisure ways”. An early evening stroll along the canal will amply demonstrate the wisdom of her view.

As you reported, the canal system is now under a renewed threat. The current Government’s austerity programme projects that the Canal & River Trust, which is charged with the maintenance of the canal system, is scheduled for £300 million spending cuts over the ten years from 2027. If you are a walker, runner, cyclist, angler, dog owner, paddle boarder, canoeist, photographer or just an appreciator of the value of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal I would urge you to support the CRT’s campaign to reverse these cuts by contacting our Member of Parliament with your concerns. This can be done easily using the CRT’s campaign, at

The Leeds and Liverpool Canal has been an integral part of our community for the past 250 years. We owe it to posterity to ensure its continuation for the next 250 years.

Colin Thunhurst, Leeds & Liverpool Canal Society, Sandbeds

* Email your letters to