Keep access to the river at Grantchester Meadows open to all

Keep access to the river at Grantchester Meadows open to all

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Camila Ilsley started this petition to King's College Cambridge and

Cambridge County Councillor Lucy Nethsingha has announced plans set out by King's College Cambridge to deny public access to the river along the entire stretch of Grantchester Meadows, Cambridge.

Whilst the land is owned by the college, it has been an asset of community value for over 500 years. Public use of the meadows for swimming, canoeing and punting has in living memory always been enjoyed by the people of Cambridge as it is one of the greatest areas of natural beauty lying within easy reach for city residents.

This decision, to be imposed in the next few weeks, will prevent people from swimming or pulling up to the meadows in a canoe, punt or similar vessel. Closing off use of the river along this stretch will shut down traditions dear to the people of Cambridge,  and choke our connection with its beautiful natural surroundings. The closure would deny new generations the sense of well-being and enjoyment derived from the river at the only accessible spot where you can swim away from traffic and infrastructure. 

We understand that the area requires careful management due to the pressure from exceptional footfall over the last 18 months, and that it is in all our interests to protect the meadows from remaining unspoiled, now and into the future.

There are multiple factors contributing to the pressure, not least rapid development across the city with inadequate amenities to match, closure of facilities due to the pandemic and more people seeking Covid-safe diversion from lockdown. But these are extraordinary circumstances and not firm grounds on which to base such drastic action.

We do not accept that all options have been exhausted as claimed. Many more cooperative options remain unexplored. The way this has been presented feels very much like the gown dismissing the town, which is not a useful or constructive approach for a progressive city, especially at a time in history when we aim to build a better 'new normal'. 

We therefore call for a public consultation in which all users of the river at Grantchester meadows can review the proposed action, and discuss workable solutions that meet the environmental, community and landowner needs without the need for stringent measures.

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