CAMPAIGNERS demanding action to improve a deeply pitted and rutted section of canal towpath in Skipton made their feelings clear in a demonstration on Tuesday.

Protestors waved placards before their representative, Skipton West Labour councillor Peter Madeley, was about to meet Nick Smith of the Canal and River Trust in Craven District Council's Belle Vue offices.

Broughton Road residents and other nearby householders have long been pushing for improvements to a half-mile stretch of the towpath, which they say has been "impassable and dangerous" over the winter.

Complaints about the state of the path, from Sawley Street to Aireville Bridge, came to a head at the beginning of the year with news that other stretches of the canal in Skipton were to be improved.

More than 500 residents have signed a petition calling on the Canal and River Trust to improve the towpath "as a matter of urgency".

Cllr Madeley put the campaigners' case to Mr Smith, the Trust's enterprise manager, in a meeting lasting well over an hour.

Afterwards, Cllr Madeley told the Craven Herald: "I told Mr Smith that, quite frankly, the state of the towpath is an absolute disgrace, both to Skipton and to the Trust.

"We are demanding action and we will continue to demand action until improvements are made. We understand that the Trust is a charity and that there are funding issues, but this is a special case that requires urgent action.

"What should be a pleasant walkway is impassable and even dangerous, especially after heavy rain, yet it would be well used by schoolchildren, residents, railway travellers and tourists if it was properly restored.

"Instead people are often forced on to Broughton Road with its heavy traffic. It's not on and the trust must act. "Mr Smith recognised that the path is in a terrible state. We will be keeping up the utmost pressure until they do something."

Improvements to the canal towpath from Gallows Bridge, near Skipton's bus station, towards Bradley were announced several months ago.

Residents immediately claimed it was in much better condition than the stretch of towpath in the other direction.

Campaigners have vowed take their fight to the Canal and River Trust headquarters in Wigan and intend to demonstrate there shortly. They have previously demanded that Craven District Council makes some cash available to help get the work carried out.

The Canal and River Trust is a charity set up in 2012 to look after the waterways of England and Wales and took over from British Waterways, the government-owned operator.