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Norwich should promote the River Wensum

PUBLISHED: 06:32 24 March 2010 | UPDATED: 09:04 02 July 2010

Adrian Holmes

Adrian Holmes

Sarah Hall

Norwich should be making much more of the River Wensum, according to councillors who want to see a new river taxi service connecting the city centre with the railway station.

Norwich should be making much more of the River Wensum, according to councillors who want to see a new river taxi service connecting the city centre with the railway station.

The river was once a vital transport route - used for goods and trade - but in the 21st century day-tripping tourists are among the only people to use it.

However, at a council meeting next week Norwich City Council will be asked to back a motion calling for a fresh focus on the river, which rises near South Raynham and joins the Yare on the south-east side of the city.

Adrian Holmes, Green party councillor for Mancroft ward, is calling on the city council's executive to explore, in consultation with its river issues group, the river's potential for recreation and economic development.

But council leader Steve Morphew, said the Green group had missed the boat and said a lot of work was already being done to breathe new life into the river.

Mr Holmes said: “One of the ideas is for a sustainable river taxi from the railway station to the city centre. It would be great if we could get a platform at the new development in Whitefriars so people going to and from work there could use the taxi from and to the train station.

“The general state of the river banks, especially around New Mills Yard, needs some work, but we could do so much more with the river.”

The development at Whitefriars - known as the St James Development - includes a new headquarters for the Broads Authority, Natural England and the Environment Agency.

Earlier this month the Evening News reported how the River Wensum would host the UK's first floating paddle league - a sport where people balance on a waterborne board.

Mr Holmes said: “I thought that sounded great and that we should be doing more with the river. It feels like it is neglected a bit at the moment.

“We need a strategy for the river to encourage new social enterprise schemes which promote public access to the river in new and existing developments next to the river.”

But Mr Morphew pointed to the Wensum River Parkway scheme, produced by the Norwich Society and Norwich Heritage Economic and Regeneration Trust and already backed by the city council.

He said: “We already have the Wensum River Parkway project, where work is being done to regenerate the river and more work will be done.

“I have had informal discussions over the use of the river to transport goods from the Eastport project at Yarmouth.

“If the Greens really wanted to do something why didn't they raise this as part of the corporate plan and where do they intend to get the resources for it from? It seems to me that the Greens have missed the boat on this one.”

The motion will be discussed when Norwich City Council meets on Tuesday .

Do you think the River Wensum is neglected? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk

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