THE proposed £52m canal project would leave a definitive legacy in the town if it went ahead.

This is according to Swindon Council leader Rod Bluh, who thinks it would provide something special for future generations to come.

He was airing his views at a scrutiny committee last night.

"I've not said this wouldn't be a challenge," said Coun Bluh (Con, Dorcan), who admitted he had never been on a canal barge before.

"But if it wasn't a challenge it wouldn't be worth doing.

"It could make Swindon a destination of choice.

"The green corridor would be a popular attraction, not just for tourists but the residents of Swindon as well.

"It's about looking at the vision and seeing the issues involved, then seeing if it's sensible to fulfil the vision.

"If we have the will to make it work, then it could happen.

"Why should we not strive for that in our community?

"It would be unfortunate and I would be disappointed if it didn't go ahead but we have to be realistic.

"I think Swindon is important enough to try."

The proposed waterway would run from the existing Wilts & Berks canal at Kingshill to Fleet Street, along Westcott Place and Faringdon Road.

It is expected new housing would be used to generate some cash. It is also hoped the National Lottery and businesses could financially prop up the project.

It is being seen as part of the town's massive regeneration programme. So far £1.3bn has been earmarked for this.

But not all the councillors shared Coun Bluh's visionary sentiments.

Liberal Democrat councillor Stan Pajak (Eastcott) questioned where the additional £6.8m generated by the canal would come from.

"What about the source of maintenance and its cost?" he said.

"This is a question of judgement.

"I don't think it's possible and it shouldn't go forward.

"I think the people of Swindon would agree with me on that."

Coun Rex Barnett (Con, Haydon Wick) believed it would great to recapture a piece of heritage as Swindon used to be a canal town many years ago.

Detailed visual canal plans are due to be released to councillors next week.