Wednesday, January 17, 2007

the falkirk wheel

operates 450 boats travelling along the central belt canals, with around 1,200 transients from places like norway, sweden and eastern england.

around 45 - 47% of visitors are from england, with the scots comprising around 40% of visitors.

within 1 and a half hours drive there are close to 3.5 million potential visitors.

the centre makes close to £500,000 a year from the visitor shop sales, in total around £1.8 million is made. it costs almost this much to operate.

christmas 2006 saw 2,000 visitors in one day attend their festive celebrations; including music, santa's grotto and all the trimmings, fireworks etc.

when on the wheel you are sat in a boat, which is floating on water whilst rotating 180 degrees. i am told it's an amazing experience. the centre closes for three weeks a year for maintenance. it was closed today.

the centre is the symbolic centre of the british waterways (scotland) who are working to restore the scottish canals into a tourist destination enjoyed by communities; instead of the dregs where rubbish is dumped and children drown.

british waterways (scotland) falls under the westminster department defra, but is wholly financed by the scottish executive's transport department. one is the department of the environment and rural affairs and the other controls the motorways. it has two masters and two aims. one master wants them to increase timber freights and eliviate the motorways, the other wants environmental renewal and a top quality tourist destination bringing inward investment to help the struggling economy.

this is one of scotland's top five tourist destinations (other four being stirling castle, edinburgh castle, glasgow's science centre, and my bed) and was born through political will and high finance but is in danger of being stunted by joined up government. labour's executive needs to start talking to labour's westminster government.

it's amazing what you learn when touring with visiting mps and it's a shame a great project is endangered by a swelling state and bloated government.

labour have had a good idea here, but they are implementing it badly.

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