Neglected river 'must be improved'

THE River Orwell in Ipswich is an eyesore and needs to be improved to become an asset used by the public for leisure, according to the town's watchdog.

By Richard Smith

THE River Orwell in Ipswich is an eyesore and needs to be improved to become an asset used by the public for leisure, according to the town's watchdog.

Rowing, boating and canoeing could replace the discarded shopping trolleys and bicycles that currently litter the muddy river.

The banks of the river are undergoing massive redevelopment with apartments springing up all over the place - but the Ipswich Society says the river itself has been neglected and should also be the focus for change.


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Liz Harsant, Ipswich borough council leader, said yesterday: ''The vision is wonderful but we are only at the beginning of a long journey and hopefully funding will be available.

''It is difficult to say which agencies would be involved in this - it cannot just be left to the borough council and the taxpayers to provide the money.''

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Cllr Harsant agreed with the Ipswich Society that there was too much rubbish in the river and she said this needed to be addressed.

John Norman, vice chairman of the society, writing in this month's newsletter, said: ''The river should be central to Ipswich's developing future. Elsewhere in the country, rivers have become part of the community.

''In Stockton the barrage holds the waters of the Tees at constant height and the river has become the catalyst for waterside developments. In London the Thames is the cleanest it's been for 200 years and apartments are springing up along all its banks, those with river views commanding a premium.

''In Bristol the Floating Harbour is an attractive proposition for perambulations and in Newcastle the Baltic, the Sage and the Blinking Eye have transformed the city.

''But in Ipswich we just have a muddy elongated skip, with shopping trolleys, bicycle frames and the detritus of an ex industrial town.”

He said the Orwell was the town's liquid history, but changes were needed.

''It needs to be an asset rather than an eyesore and it needs to be accessible. A barrage at Felaw Street across the New Cut would allow rowing along the straight between Stoke and Princes Street bridges, canoes at West End Road weir and boats for hire on high days and holidays.

''Carefully designed shallows would allow reeds to grow, waterfowl to nest and wildlife to flourish. There might even be a bathing place or two.''

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