A NEW campaign has been launched to use a local canal system as a springboard for the town’s regeneration.
Leigh MP Andy Burnham is being supported by Wigan Council, the Canal and River Trust and the Bridgewater Canal Company in his call to use the historic waterways to benefit businesses, create new jobs and homes and encourage a healthy community.
Mr Burnham will launch the campaign by touring the area on a canal boat on Friday and is chairing a working group to promote how important the canals are to Leigh.
Mr Burnham said: “We have a great opportunity to use our fantastic waterways to help us to regenerate Leigh and to provide a great place for local people to visit.
“The local community, including residents, businesses and schools can play a vital part in improving the area and we rely on people being willing to get involved.
“A canal festival is being planned for later in the year and this should be a great event.”
Mr Burnham is keen to promote both the business regeneration aspects of the campaign and the healthy lifestyle opportunities for activities such as cycling along the towpath.
The campaign aims to highlight the importance to the town of the Leeds-Liverpool and Bridgewater canal which meet in the centre of the town.
The canals and their historic waterside buildings are seen as crucial to the area’s regeneration by the authorities, with major developments planned to increase Leigh’s appeal to investors.
The campaign will be launched on a day of action with volunteers sprucing up the canal with a litter pick, graffiti removal and bulb planting.
The Canal and River Trust is also providing new signs to encourage people to use the towpath and teach them some of the waterways’ history as well as organising projects to improve the towpath entrance at the King Street Bridge and install new mooring rings.
Wigan Council deputy leader Coun David Molyneux said: “Leigh and its waterfront have a bright future. There are ambitious plans to develop new homes and businesses around the canal bringing more jobs to the area and a new marina will open later in 2015 increasing tourism in Leigh.”
“The improvements proposed will make the canal more welcoming with your help. Major developments, like building work, will inevitably take longer but we will be working hard to make these happen.
“The canal is a fantastic local amenity, a linear park. It’s unique. We want to encourage people to use it and to keep it clean and tidy. In the short term, we have plans to work with volunteers to tidy up canal, to remove graffiti, and to do other repairs.”