Leicester City Mayor Peter Soulsby 'looking to revitalise waterfront'
Sir Peter Soulsby says he hopes to get plans to improve Leicester's waterfront back on track.
The city mayor said he was looking at plans to run canal cruises, encourage people to open riverside pubs and restaurants and get more people walking and cycling beside the waterways.
They were part of British Waterways' plan for the future of the River Soar and Grand Union Canal, but had stalled due to a lack of cash.
The organisation, which was responsible for the waterways, has been replaced by the Canal and River Trust.
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Sir Peter is chairman of the trust in the area.
He said: "This will reflect our shared ambitions to improve the river and canal corridor for visitors, for wildlife and as an economic driver in the region.
"We already have lots of people who use the waterways in boats and who have set up businesses on or around the waterways, but we could have more.
"I want to see what we can do to make more use of this important corridor through the city and also help people who are already there to continue to grow."
Detailed plans for the vision for the waterways are still being discussed but Sir Peter said it would include leisure activities.
These could include new riverside pubs, cruises, better cycle access and work to link existing waterside locations such as the National Space Centre, Abbey Park and the Outdoor Pursuits Centre.
He said he hoped improvements could be paid for through grants and the private sector.
Anne Hock, secretary of Leicester Rowing Club, welcomed the plans but said one of the main problems for the river and canal was litter.
She said: "The people of Leicester need to take more care of the city's waterways.
"We look forward to working with the partnership.
"There are some lovely stretches which are marred by weeds, litter and unkempt sites."
British Waterways' original £3 million strategy envisaged revitalising the 23-mile stretch between Loughborough and Kilby Bridge, south of Wigston.
Ideas included water taxis, but Sir Peter said that might not go ahead due to the practicalities of getting the boats down the waterway.
British Waterways cared for the 2,200-mile network of canals and rivers in England, Scotland and Wales until the start of July, when it was replaced by the charity Canal & River Trust.
Tony Matts, who runs a cafe and boat hire business at Foxton Locks, near Market Harborough, has been elected to represent businesses on the national council of the trust.
He said: "I am very optimistic about the future of the canals.
"The trust is likely to be more down to earth and concentrate on what is achievable.
"It will be more answerable and reactive to the needs and wishes of the people who live and work on the waterways."