WORK has begun on the new £3.9m Canal Walk project with contractors confident that it should be completed by February.

The project to re-vamp Canal Walk is being managed by The New Swindon Company and covers the whole of Jubilee Square, along with the entire length of Canal Walk to Wharf Green.

The majority of the funding has come from the South West Regional Development Agency, with a further £1m from the government’s Growth Points fund.

According to Coun Phil Young, Swindon Council’s member for culture, regeneration and economic development, the refurbishment is bringing a timely boost to Swindon’s economy with local jobs and increasing trade for local construction-based businesses.

He said: “As well as delivering improved facilities for the public when the project is complete, the refurbishment of Canal Walk is already delivering many benefits for the town by providing jobs for local people and boosting business for local suppliers.

“There is also a knock-on effect on our shops and cafes where the labour force is spending money and, of course, the positive impact for local hotels and B&B’s where out-of-town workers are staying.”

Nearly half the jobs created by the Canal Walk programme have been filled by local people, according to the New Swindon Company. These positions range from general labourers to tele-handler drivers, while three Swindon-based scaffolders are currently leading the installation of the Living Green wall.

Local suppliers are also feeling the positive impacts, with companies such as Cemex, Burdens and Travis Perkins providing construction materials for the much-needed outdoor improvements.

Dylan Thomas, project manager for the main contractor, Skanska, said: “Where possible, we have tried to source materials locally and we are regulars at the local depots of Burdens and Travis Perkins.

“We use our supply chain as a means of improving the living and working standards of people in Swindon and contributing to its sustainability. We apply the same logic to finding additional resources and we have taken on seven local operatives since the project started at the end of August.

“Even when our employees are coming from further afield, they are still contributing to the town’s economy as they stay in local B&Bs and hotels at least three times a week.”

In a bid to minimise waste, the project team is committed to recovering as much material as possible to encourage recycling and re-use.

The first batch of materials from Canal Walk is now available for purchase from Swindon Reclaim on Kingdsown Road, telephone 01793 827163.

The loose clay paving blocks are ideal for driveways and patios.