£150,000 flows in for city's Millennium Link

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Plans have been revealed for the latest developments along Preston's Millennium Ribble Link.

Around 150,000 will be splashed out on new activities.

The link, which was opened in September 2002, connects the Lancaster Canal to the Leeds Liverpool Canal and to the rest of the UK's waterway network.

The latest funding has come from the Millennium Commission in the form of an enhancement grant.

New attractions along the link will include a community boat, a designated wildlife area and an outdoor classroom for youngsters. A wide beam boat has been snapped up for 75,000 from Stratford-upon-Avon which will take groups of people up and down the link.

It will also host community workshops for schools to find out more about canals, barges and boats. The boat is currently moored at Galgate, Lancaster, and will shortly move to Nantwich for restoration work before taking to the water at Easter.

A specially designated wetlands area costing 55,000 will also be created for wildlife close to loch eight near the Lea Gate Hotel which will include bird hides.

An outdoor classroom will also be created along the link, which will include information boards about the history of canals, their activities and wildlife.

The existing art trail is also to be extended to lock eight, at Lea Gate.

It already boasts four impressive sculptures based on the themes of water, earth, air and fire.

Claire Chapman, leisure project officer for British Waterways, said: "We have been working with Preston Council about the art trail and we want to have a lot of community involvement.

"We are still thinking about what sort of art we are going to do.

"We will be running workshops throughout the summer for people to come up with ideas." Meanwhile, British Waterways say there are no plans to move the Water sculpture which was attacked by vandals earlier this month.

The timber statue of a naked man, created by Bretherton sculptor Thompson Dagnall, had its toes chopped off and axe marks were left on the left foot, shin and hands.

In a previous attack in August 2002, vandals painted the statue's toes with nail varnish and scrawled names across the front and back of its legs.

Miss Chapman said: "We did a lot of public consultation before the sculpture was installed and the local people really liked it."

e-mail: geraldine.baybutt@lep.co.uk