I READ with incredulity Andrew Thin’s defence of Steve Dunlop’s stewardship of Scottish Canals (Letters, May 15).

Like Mr Thin, I cycle frequently along the canal towpath. It is certainly a more peaceful if less interesting cycle than it used to be given the lack of boats navigating its waters.

I remember the fanfare which accompanied the joining of the Union and Forth and Clyde canals. Much was made of the fact that, once again, boats could navigate from east coast to west coast and the benefits to tourism and the like it would bring. It was exciting to bring the canals’ original purpose back to life again;

for surely the raison d'etre of a linked canal system is for boats to be able to navigate it.

Mr Thin cites Mr Dunlop’s achievements and defends the closing of the canal to navigable traffic as being down to merely the failure of a couple of humble bearings. Has he never heard the proverb “For the want of a nail…”?

If he is such a fan of Mr Dunlop, does he not realise that for the want of a bearing (or two) many of Mr Dunlop’s achievements, of which Mr Thin vigorously reminds us, could be lost. Was it not in his remit to budget a small part of all that wonderful income he was responsible for generating by housing development and so on for basic maintenance?

Interest in the canals will soon wane if it becomes simply a moribund museum piece and it is in danger of so becoming.

William Thomson,

25 Lithgow Place, Denny.