A marina owner is taking a compensation battle to an industry watchdog following delays to renovation work on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal after a 64-tonne crane tumbled into the water two weeks ago.
Steve Wright said Apperley Bridge Marina had been landlocked since November as work is undertaken at Dobson Locks at one end and Field Locks at the other. But because of the accident and poor weather some of the maintenance is behind schedule.
“That will definitely start to impact on my business in a big way because we are coming to the start of the season,” Mr Wright said.
The businessman said he had lost takings over the winter as people had been unable to take their boats out, and therefore were not buying essentials such as diesel and coal. He has also lost passing trade, which although slower during the winter is still a source of income.
On February 9 a heavy duty crane was being used as part of Canal & River Trust preparation work to replace lock gates at Dobson Locks when the towpath gave way and it toppled into the water.
The Trust said the accident was rare and removing the crane presented an “unusual challenge.”
Waterway manager at the Trust, Iain Weston, said the channel would be drained of water over the next few days, which would help establish how the accident happened and how to remove the crane.
He added: “Specialist contractors will then remove the excess oils and diesel from the crane and the towpath will be closed whilst this happens. I can, however, assure everyone who enjoys the canal that we’re working on a plan to get things back to normal as quickly as possible.”
This week Mr Wright found out it was likely works would now overrun.
He said: “My biggest problem is that I’ve been trying to talk to the Canal & River Trust regarding compensation and I’ve been told that under no circumstances do they pay out compensation. I’m at a stage now where I’ve taken it as far as I can with the Trust. My next step is to refer it to the Waterways Ombudsman.
“You expect stoppages and closures, they’re part of the canal system, but I think their planning to close both the locks and bridge is poor.”
The Trust said it planned winter works a year in advance in consultation with businesses and to cause the least disruption. The Fields Lock and Dobson Lock repairs were planned together as they are only a mile apart, but the Trust said there has been a delay due to weather and the accident. The marina, which can moor 43 boats, is leased to Mr Wright by the Trust.
Ward Councillor Alun Griffiths (Lib Dem, Idle and Thackley) said: “We would hope that the people responsible for shifting it (the crane), do it with every possible haste so the livelihood of people living here and leisure opportunities are returned as soon as possible.”
Work at Field Locks is due to finish shortly.