Sustainable transport charity Sustrans, working in partnership with the Basingstoke Canal Authority, Surrey County Council and Woking Borough Council, is pleased to announce that work to upgrade the Basingstoke canal towpath will start in February 2008, subject to consultation. The first phase of the project will stretch from Kiln Bridge in St. John's to Chobham Road in Woking.

The work will involve bank protection and piling to the towpath edge as well as providing a hard-wearing surface for the towpath itself, making it is more accessible for walkers, cyclists and wheelchair users.

Local people are invited to view the plans and speak to a member of the project Steering Group on Tuesday 27 November 2007 12-5 pm at The Lightbox, Chobham Road and on Thursday 29 November 2007 12-8 pm at Peacocks Shopping Centre in Woking. Full details are available from the Basingstoke Canal Authority website www.basingstoke-canal.co.uk.

The public consultation will cover the full 8 miles from Pirbright Bridge in the west to the Wey Navigation at Byfleet in the east, even though the first phase of works is planned for a shorter 2 mile section in the centre of Woking. The consultation period ends on 7 December 2007.

Ian Brown, Director of the Basingstoke Canal Authority said: "This is a great opportunity to improve access to the Canal, whilst maintaining and enhancing its character and community value. With these improvements we should accomplish a much safer and better maintained route from village to town that every one can use."

Val Tinney, Chairman of Surrey County Council, Local Committee (Woking) said: "I welcome this project and feel that this will bring a lot of benefit for the residents of Woking and surrounding areas".

Woking Borough Councillor Rob Leach said: "I successfully put a motion to the Borough Council in April welcoming the improvements and I campaigned for them on the doorstep at the last election. I am very pleased that residents in Goldsworth East will be the first to see the benefit of Sustrans' hard work. By making the towpath easier and safer to use for cyclists, pram and wheelchair users as well as pedestrians, we should see a reduction in traffic and parking problems (particularly during the school run) as well as a more accessible, healthy green space. The Basingstoke Canal is a real asset for the Borough, let's make the most of it."

The work is part of the Sustrans/Cycling England Links to Schools Programme, a nationwide scheme, in partnership with local authorities, to connect schools, colleges and communities to the 12,000 miles of the National Cycle Network. Surrey County Council has also provided funding for the project.

Website - www.sustrans.org.uk