FORMER Swindon Council leader Rod Bluh is being appointed as chairman of the Wilts and Berks Canal Trust.

He will be officially confirmed in the role later this month.

Rod, who served with Swindon Council between 2006 and 2013, said: “I am honoured to be asked by the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust to be their chairman.

"It is something I see as being a huge asset for all communities along its route, and something which has the potential to bring economic, social and environmental benefits to Swindon, as well as to Wiltshire and Oxfordshire.

“Of course, I know the plans for the canal in Swindon very well, but I look forward to learning about the plans for restoration all along the rest of the line, especially with major schemes like the Melksham Link now so imminent.

"The major developments planned for the Wichelstowe area, and in the Eastern Villages, will give great opportunities to extend the canal, which will be a considerable amenity for these new communities.”

The trust is delighted by the appointment.

Kath Hatton, vice chairman, said: “The trust is thrilled that Roderick Bluh has accepted our invitation to become our chairman. He has long been a supporter of the restoration of the Wilts & Berks Canal, and we look forward to benefitting from his knowledge and experience.

"His well-known skills of organisation and management will be invaluable to the Trust as we re-organise ourselves to manage the changes coming about.

“The pace of the restoration is coming together, with more and bigger projects coming along, and we need to be ready for them.

"In addition of course he has a deep knowledge of the town of Swindon, which the trust sees as having the potential to become the hub of a southern canals network.”