ORGANISERS have reassured river users that the estimated 26,000 people and 500 boats expected in St Ives for next summer s Inland Waterways Festival will all go with the flow – especially if there are enough volunteers to help. Concerns have been expresse
ORGANISERS have reassured river users that the estimated 26,000 people and 500 boats expected in St Ives for next summer's Inland Waterways Festival will all go with the flow - especially if there are enough volunteers to help.
Concerns have been expressed that there will not be enough moorings for the hundreds of boats converging on the area for the three-day event.
The Inland Waterways Authority is issuing licences, which allow boat users to navigate the rivers and canals, with a two-months-for-the-price-of- one offer. It hopes the offer will help to stagger boat travel along the river in the run-up to the event.
However, Eric Turner, who has taken his boat on the River Ouse every weekend for the past three years, said he expected there to be problems.
"There are a number of locks which are difficult to navigate. It can take five days to get the boats through all the locks," he said.
"Denver lock (between March and Ely) is tidal and there are only two hours in the day, when the tide is in, that boats can pass through it."
He added: "There will also be the problem of moorings. Any extra ones put in place will need to be there about three weeks beforehand and the impact of all the extra boats could affect water levels."
Gillian Bolt, spokesman for the Inland Waterways Authority, said special staging would be built with temporary moorings for up to 600 boats.
And John Adams, water development manager for the Environment Agency, said: "A lot of boats will be able to pass through Denver lock in two hours. We will make sure we have extra staff. We are well aware of the water-level problem and we will have ways of managing it."
He added: "We always hope for some form of legacy from this type of event and the benefit will be a permanent increase in visitor moorings on the Nene and the Ouse."
Preparations for the boating festival, to take place over the August Bank Holiday, have been launched with appeal for volunteers and suppliers to get involved.
Volunteers are needed for jobs including: putting up signs, helping with car parking for caravaners and campers,
working as harbour masters, ticket collectors, running information stands, public address announcers, media hosts and, before the event, as brochure distributors and telephonists. There is a budget to pay an organisation to supply lavatory attendants.
The festival moves around the country each year and was held at Pangbourn near Reading last year. It took place in Ely in 1973 and Peterborough in 1993. Proceeds from the festival go to fund IWA campaigns to maintain and preserve the rivers.
INFORMATION: Anyone interested in becoming a festival volunteer can call 0870 2402438 or visit www.waterways.org.uk