15 NOVEMBER 1946, Page 15


Sta,—I shall remain unrepentant of having, to quote Mr. Rolt, " invited a public controversy," if by so doing public interest in canals will become focused in its proper perspective. That the majority of waterway executives are neither ignorant nor unaware of the difficulties with which the inland water-transport industry is faced can be judged by reference to Post-War Policy for the Inland Waterways, in which the Canal Joint Committee, in addition to stating why maintenance has fallen into arrears, makes recommendations designed not only to remedy the present state of affairs, but also to cover long-term policy ; and I am surprised that Mr. Rolt's association, in its recent public utterances, has not seen fit to acknowledge this fact instead of depreciating, either by disregard or by criticism, the activities of those whose job it is to deal with the problems at first hand.

In making his various generalisations, Mr. Rolt seems unable to resist the temptation of taking the bad and ignoring the good, with results that are very misleading. For instance, he makes no reference to the sub- stantial contributions to the war-time tonnage figure of the south-eastern and south-western arms of " The Cross," while an even more obvious omission, in relation to the Midlands canal network, is the fact that Birmingham Canal Navigations alone carried on the average roughly two million tons annually. However, there is obviously a common bond of interest between the Inland Waterways Association and the existing organisations out of which it should be possible to promote co-operation which can have beneficial results both for the industry and the trading public, and my Association will readily devote the practical experience of its members to any purpose designed to achieve this end.—Yours faith-

The Canal Association, Secretary. 9 Victoria Street, S.W.T.