Britain’s Secretary of State for tourism has been told that Lancashire’s visitor industry could suffer “death by drowning” if more attention isn’t paid to maintaining the county’s waterways.
The warning was delivered last week by tourism operator Henry Wild at a major London tourism conference, at which cabinet minister John Whittingdale was present.
Both Mr Whittingdale and Mr Wild addressed delegates at the annual conference of the British Holiday & Home Parks Association, of which Mr Wild is the UK national chairman.
Mr Wild, whose family business is Moss Wood Caravan Park in Cockerham, said that the government needed urgently to address the problem of ill-maintained inland waterways.
He said he had recently shown Lancaster MP Cat Smith the problems on and around his park where overflowing fields and rivers can make local roads impassable to visitors.
Mr Wild said there needed to be a body appointed with clearly defined responsibilities for ensuring that waterways were capable of removing surface water from the land.
He said that recent events in north Lancashire had shown the potentially devastating impact that flooding could have on the tourism industry.
He added that the real tragedy would be if any efforts or expense were spared to try and prevent a recurrence.
“We know from many years running a successful park in North Lancashire that this region is very much up and coming as a visitor destination,” he said.
“However, much of the region is low-lying and increasingly prone to flooding due entirely to lack of maintenance of the waterways which allow heavy rainfall to escape out to sea.
“We now need a clear road map which identifies the agency and the resources available to it for tackling the problem of an ever-rising water table.”