TOURISM bosses have pulled the plug on a popular boating festival due to the closure of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal because of the drought.

The annual gathering at Reedley Marina was due to go ahead in September but British Waterways has announced a 60-mile closure of the canal from the start of August.

The move is a fresh blow for the marina, which has moved its boat hire operation to the Llangollen Canal in Cheshire ahead of the planned closure.

For the first time in 15 years the canal will be shut, from Wigan to Gargreave, taking in Pendle’s stretch from Reedley to Barnoldswick.

Vaughan Jones, Pendle tour-ism manager, said: “The canal festival at Reedley Marina is one of the most popular days out on our events calendar, so it is a great shame we have to cancel it this year.

“However, as a responsible local authority, we are happy to show our support to British Waterways in order to protect the integrity of the canal and reservoirs and safeguard our aquatic habitat.”

Reservoirs in Pendle which serve the canal include the Upper and Lower Foulridge waters, Slipper Hall, Barrow-ford and Whitemoor in West Craven.

Water levels across the pools are expceted to dip below 10 per cent by the start of August. Recent rain has not yet affected drought predictions.

Council officials say they will still be promoting their Heritage Open Days programme, of which the canal festival was a highlight, on September 11 and 12.

An update on the canal drought situation is expec-ted from British Waterways on August 9.

Last year, the canal festival attracted more than 100 boat owners and featured canoeing demonstrations, circus performers and clowns.

The £1.2million Reedley Marina was built in 2008 by Jason Fildes, who still runs the attraction as well as owning Barden Mill.