A SUPPORTER of plans for a new canal through Swindon has hit back at negative comments featured in the Adver' s letter pages.

Roy Cartwright is chairman of the Swindon branch of the Wilts and Berks Canal Trust.

He believes that the canal project could help turn Swindon into a genuine tourist attraction.

He said: "The estimate of the benefits are about £8 million per year in tourism alone.

"But this is not the big picture.

"We believe in Swindon - it is our home, where we were born, but like so many others we know that Swindon does not have a heart.

"It is not a place that people want to come to.

"We wish to change that."

Roy believes that Adver online reader naysayers, who remember the old canal as it was, should be thinking rationally, not emotionally.

He said: "From an historical point of view the reason the canal was closed was because of its threat to health, which was caused mainly by the fact that the railways had a number of open pipes that discharged straight into the canal.

"We knew no better in those days, 100 years ago.

"Today, if they did that they'd end up in prison."

Roy said that arguments about £50m being misspent are also wide of the mark.

He said: "There is no £50m, so if the canal is not built the money will not be available to anywhere else.

"The regeneration of Swindon has been priced and the canal would add two pence in the pound to the cost. The developers will make their money when they sell their apartments overlooking the marina."

Another area of contention is the effect the canal will have on traffic problems in the centre.

Roy said: "What we are saying to the council is solve the traffic problem and build the canal into the solution."

Roy said the issue of rubbish filling up the canal could also be solved.

He said: "Those that have ever been to the beach early in the morning will have seen the machine that turns the sand and collects the rubbish, leaving the sand lovely and clean.

"There is a machine which does exactly that on the water. This has been priced with the cost of opening the canal."

Finally Roy wants to make it clear that there is very little risk of flooding from canals as, unlike rivers, they can be managed.