Tiverton horse drawn barge hit by cost of living crisis

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The owner of Tiverton's horse drawn barge says the cost of living crisis is 'catastrophic' for attractions.

Phil Brind's family has been running the business since the 1980s.

It was starting to recover from the pandemic but Phil says people are now cutting back on spending and fuel prices are rising, causing the coach tour companies which bring business to the Westcountry to cancel their bookings.

The barge runs trips on the Grand Western Canal from Tiverton Credit: ITV WESTCOUNTRY

Phil says "It has been a real challenge. When you are out of business for 16 months it is difficult to come back from that."

Owner Phil Brind says his business has been badly affected by the cost of living crisis Credit: ITV WESTCOUNTRY

Phil says many parts of the tourist and attractions industry rely on each other, and that "If it wasn't for coaches we wouldn't be in business, it's a simple as that.

"21 coaches coming to Devon for a tour have cancelled and it's catastrophic, not just for myself. This is across Devon, across attractions so everybody is suffering the same. It's a very big worry for us as a family business. Is there a future? I don't know."

"Tivertonian" is one of the last remaining horse drawn barges in Great Britain Credit: ITV WESTCOUNTRY

One positive is that the Grand Western Canal Country Park, run and maintained by Devon County Council, is drawing locals in greater numbers, making the most of the natural environment on their doorstep.

Phil says it has provided people with an escape from everyday worries:

"We are seeing people walk the Grand Western Canal to get away from the stresses of life and I think that is why we have seen an increase in people's appreciation of the horse-drawn barge. They are coming out for that peace and tranquility and also that living heritage."