MP Wera Hobhouse recently visited the Canal and River Trust in Bath to learn more about the work being done to improve the local canal network.
During her visit, Mrs Hobhouse praised the volunteers, who put in an average of 12 hours a week to keep the canal in good order.
Over the last year, there have been major works to the local canal, with substantial investment in the Bathwick area.
However, the visit came amid news of the government’s decision to reduce funding for the Canal and River Trust.
A government review released recently found that the Trust provides “value for money,” yet the amount of funding that was agreed upon was £300 million lower than expected.
This poses a risk to the 80,000 jobs and £1.5 billion in annual economic contribution supported by the canals that the C&RT maintains.
Mrs Hobhouse said that it is essential to support the C&RT in maintaining the canals to preserve its economic and ecological contributions.
The decision to reduce funding poses a “serious risk to the condition of the canal network” and raises concerns about the possibility of canal closures.
Wera Hobhouse commented: “Once again the Bath community is leading the way, with so many passionate volunteers displaying their unwavering dedication to our canals.
“The government needs to take note of their hard work and show that they care by reversing this disastrous funding cut.
“Canals are an essential part of our national heritage, providing significant benefits to our economy, communities and natural environment.
“Constituents have come to me with their concerns over the cuts, and I am appalled that the government would even consider neglecting our canals.
“We must work together to preserve the canal network and maintain its contributions to our society, including its provision of an alternative route to the road network and active travel.”
Mark Evans, regional director at the Canal & River Trust for Wales & South West, said: “We were delighted to welcome Wera to the Kennet & Avon Canal in Bath to meet our volunteers and staff and to see the excellent work they are doing to care for the canal in the local area.
“The recent news about the government’s funding cuts puts our much-loved canal network at risk.
“A reduction in grant funding of over £300 million in real terms will threaten the future of the nation’s historic canals, leading to their decline and to the eventual closure of some parts of the network.
“Our canals are places in our towns and cities where people can relax, get close to nature and feel the health benefits of spending time by water.
“We’re calling on the public to join our campaign to Keep Canals Alive so we can secure the support they need to avert the decline that we saw during the last century and so they can continue delivering substantial benefits to the economy, to people and communities, and to nature and biodiversity.”