By Christian Barnett – Local Democracy Reporter
A study to look at whether pleasure boats could return to the River Severn in Worcester has received council backing to the tune of £30,000.
Worcester City Council’s income generation committee, which is tasked with finding, developing and funding projects that will bring more money to the city, approved the plan but scrapped the idea to look solely at hired rowing boats in favour of looking at the state of all ‘pleasure’ boats on the river.
The committee is already developing ways it can utilise the riverside to bring more money into the city and decided at a meeting on Tuesday it will absorb the boat study into its wider work.
The £30,000 granted for the study would allow the council to look at potential locations and their sustainability, examine nearby areas such as Stourport for comparison, assess the cost and potential income of the scheme as well as talk to various river users over the plans.
Initially, Councillor Roger Knight, wanted the rowing boat item deleted from the agenda giving the reason that a specific item on rowing boats would disrupt the committee’s overall work with boats on the river.
He said: “I was a little bit annoyed with this one, particularly at the policy and resources meeting [in July] because boats on the river are already on our agenda as part of the riverside improvements and it was hijacked and became ‘rowing’ boats on the river.
“I don’t think rowing boats are necessarily the right vehicle to be hiring out on the river because of the current we have on the Severn.
“It’s already on our agenda and I don’t think we should be looking at rowing boats on the river specifically.”
Cllr Jo Hodges agreed with Cllr Knight and said references were made to boats in the overall riverside report – which was also discussed at the meeting – and a specific item would “intrude”on the report.
She said: “I do think that any sort of decision to award any kind of money to promote rowing boats should be taken in context with the whole [riverside] task and finishing group.”
Cllr Pat Agar added there were “very serious safety issues” with the current on the River Severn and even very experienced rowers faced problems.
Cllr Mike Johnson said: “You need to engage all the river users rather than just look at one particular facet.”