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New 'waterways champion' keen to solve Chapel Arches problem

The newly-appointed Maidenhead Waterways champion says he is keen to find a solution to a major snag in the £8million project.

Cllr Derek Wilson (Con, Oldfield) has been made deputy lead member, Maidenhead Waterways champion, while Cllr Michael Airey will be deputy lead member, RBWM performance manager, in the latest appointments announced by the Royal Borough.

Neither councillor will receive additional allowances, and, while both will be able to sit in cabinet meetings, they will not have any voting rights.

Cllr Wilson’s new role will see him working closely with the Maidenhead Waterways project, and he aims to help find a way to deepen the channel under the Chapel Arches and allow larger boats to pass through.

He said: “Waterways has been a project quite dear to my heart since the word go, that’s why I’m quite keen to ensure we achieve what we need to achieve.

“The area of discussion was about lowering a plinth underneath the Chapel Arches to ensure boats could get underneath.

“It is one of my desires to try and get that. I will work to secure a meeting with Michael Shanly.”

Shanly Homes, which was founded by Michael Shanly, is building at Chapel Arches but so far neither the council or the property developer has committed to fund work to lower the channel.

Most of the stream is at a depth of 1.3metres, but the Chapel Arches section is only 0.6metres deep, meaning almost all boats, apart from rowing boats and canoes, will not be able to pass along the full length of the channel.

A Shanly Homes spokeswoman said there is an ‘ongoing dialogue’ between the company and the council.

On his appointment as deputy lead member, Cllr Wilson added that he had a ‘great deal’ of experience in planning and hopes to bring that to the role.

Cllr Michael Airey, (Con, Clewer South) was not available to comment at the time of going to press.

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