We held a well attended and lively consultation event on bathing water designation in Newnham Sports and Social Club on Tuesday 29 August.
Ably and fairly chaired by Jeremy Sallis (formerly of BBC Radio Cambridge), the room was packed with 62 attendees. A wide range of views were heard: Friends of the Cam handed out leaflets and spoke powerfully about their opposition to the principle of designation and their outrage at Anglian Water. Others spoke equally powerfully about the benefits of designation, particularly for the health of swimmers, Cambridge’s young people and their access to nature.
The main concerns related to increased visitor numbers. DBW would be a minor factor in increasing visitor numbers but there are a lot of other factors related to warming climate and less long distance travel for leisure that are likely to be stronger, given that the designation will result in advisories against swimming until improvements in quality can be achieved. Many people in the audience felt that visitor numbers to all green spaces in Cambridge are increasing and likely to increase for multiple reasons and this is good, and obviously will in the long-term need managing – but this should not be stopping us cleaning up the river.
The overall feeling of the meeting was supportive of designation.
One participant emailed us with her reaction to the event as follows
“Many local residents came along and put paid to the oft repeated fallacy that local people don’t want designated bathing water at Sheeps Green. The overall feeling was supportive……. every attendee received FotC leaflet, and I felt counterarguments most certainly were heard and given space to be expressed. Overall the takeaway was ‘don’t let perfect be the enemy of good’ – all these local pressure groups can and should campaign on many issues for better river health, changes to environment legislation and designation process, but just because DBWs don’t fix all problems all at once does not mean it’s not worthwhile.“
Michael Goodhart, sharing some of the 400+ year history of swimming in the Cam
Anne Miller, explaining why Cam Valley Forum proposes applying for designation
Simon Spooner explaining how the water industry works
Olwen Williams sharing her concerns for Paradise Local Nature Reserve
Do respond to the consultation here by the deadline of 15 September 2023