River closure like ‘closing M4’ council warned

The closure of the River Avon in Bath to all boats could prove damaging to the local economy and is the waterways equivalent of ‘closing the M4’, a city Councillor has warned.

Bath & North East Somerset Council’s River Champion, Cllr Dave Laming (Cons, Lambridge), is urging the council to do all it can to make Victoria Bridge safe so that river traffic can pass under the bridge again as soon as possible.

Cllr Laming said:

“The closure of the river to all river traffic is extremely worrying, not just to boat users like myself, but to all residents in the city. It really is the river equivalent of shutting off the M4 motorway to traffic.

“For too many years the river passing through our city has not been maintained to the standard it deserves. The water course, its banks and bridges have been left to decay, and we are now seeing the consequences of this.

“Like all cities with a river at their heart, Bath’s local economy benefits enormously from the River Avon and the boat traffic it brings. If this were to be stopped for a long period this could prove very damaging to our local economy. I have been speaking with the council’s Officers about the matter and impressing upon the importance of taking action as soon as possible to get the bridge safe so that boats can pass underneath again. It’s troubling that the council does not yet have a timescale for how long the river will be closed, leaving dozens of boats stranded, away from their home moorings, with two pleasure boat businesses unable to operate, and hundreds of pedestrians and cyclists inconvenienced.

“As the Council’s River Champion, I want the Council to ensure it treats the regeneration and ecological improvement of this truly wonderful river as a priority, including restoring such important icons as the Victoria Bridge.”