Canal Businesses In Trouble From Drought

Canal Businesses in Hertfordshire could be in serious trouble if the current drought lasts for much longer.

It was announced yesterday (mon) that hosepipe bans will start next month in Southern and Eastern England caused by the worst drought in a decade.

British Waterways closed part of the Grand Union Canal at it's highest point near Tring to save water and feed it back into the reservoirs. This, however, has caused problems for businesses that rely on their boats traveling through that route. Boat cruises have run aground and boat sales have declined as they can't get their boats to their customers on the other side of the closure.

Phil Bassett owns Boatshed Grand Union in Abbots Langley, he says his business is struggling because he can't get his boats to all of his customers ''We can't move boats from one side of Tring to the other, so boats that we have for sale, when they're bought by people on the wrong side of the summitt thay have difficulty getting their boat back to their home base.

''If you remove half your feasible market for any boat because you can't sell it, you can only sell it south or you can only sell it north rather than being able to sell it anywhere that the buyer comes from, it's obviously going to make your business harder.''

Cecilia Brand, who owns Grebe Canal Cruises in Pitstone, says it's affected their customer's experience ''The water level by the bridge was low and we had to disembark our passengers to get the boat through. They were very game for true British spirit should I say, they disembarked for us, had a little walk along the tow path and then re-boarded.''

She goes on to say that if things don't improve they'll have to consider moving their business to another location ''It's a horrible thought, we try not to think about that. I mean we may have to look to reviewing where we operate our business from. That is obviously a last resort but I think in the long term if this is seen to be a big problem then that is something we may have to do.''

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