THIS week we are excited and proud to be able to announce with Highways England some very important news - £4 million of funding to open up the ‘missing mile’ of canal underneath and around the roads network west of Stonehouse.

In fact it will route the Stroudwater Canal underneath and through the A38 Fromebridge roundabout, an impressive feat of engineering! Stroud District Council is the lead partner in restoring the canal with Cotswold Canals Trust, and this news is not only a major boost but will mean major obstacles to restoration are overcome.

When the M5 was built around 50 years ago, and the roads leading to it upgraded, precious little thought was given to the canal. The M5 was laid straight across it, the A419 largely built along it and the then-new Bristol Road A38 roundabout placed on top of it. The plan is to route the canal right alongside the River Frome to get it under the M5, build a new stretch south of the A419, then route it through the roundabout.

Further along the canal is Brimscombe Port and I will be attending its Project Board this week – this is another site where the canal was filled in. Once the largest inland port in the country, SDC is selecting a partner or partners to develop it in to a unique waterside community, and restore more of the canal and a basin in the process.

Last month at full council I was pleased to see unanimous cross-party support for a motion adopted by 90 councils across the country, to adopt an anti-slavery charter – the National Crime Agency estimates that workers exploited in the way are in the tens of thousands nationwide. While we work well in the Gloucestershire Anti-Slavery partnership, we can always do more and this embeds good practice so the council can spot and challenge this issue wherever possible.