King’s College announces it will not enforce Grantchester Meadows swimming and boating ban

The college has no intention of patrolling the riverbank in the meadows, and has stated that no action can be taken against swimmers there

King’s College has stated it will not enforce its recent ban on swimming and boating at Grantchester Meadows, specifying that it has no intention of patrolling the riverbank in the meadows and that no action can be taken against swimmers there.

King’s has also now claimed that it put signs up in Grantchester Meadows prohibiting these activities after unsuccessful attempts to engage the local authorities’ support in managing the meadows. A spokesperson for the college explained they feel “unable” to adapt the wording of these signs, or take them down, without the “express support” of these local authorities.

The college is meeting with the relevant councils – South Cambridgeshire District Council, Cambridge City Council, Grantchester Parish Council and Cambridgeshire County Council – and other stakeholders next week to work on a solution for the area that is “for the benefit of all.”

Having previously said a decision on removing the signs could be made this week, King’s has indicated the signage is unlikely to change before this time.

A King’s College spokesperson told Cambridgeshire Live that the college has “no desire to prevent responsible use of the river” and that it has “previously asked the local authorities about support for safe and properly managed access.”

It adds that it has a “legal responsibility to try to deter activities which may result in harm.” The advice the college has been given on fulfilling this responsibility “would suggest that it is not sufficient” for the college to indicate that entering the river is ‘at the swimmer’s own risk’, unless King’s has “taken action to deter” entrance into the river at all. It, therefore, opted for the ‘no swimming’ wording on the signs.

The college has “every wish” to “temper the language” of the ‘no swimming’ signs to create a “less prohibitive” wording, but is reluctant to do so without the support of the councils and their health and safety officers.

King’s is therefore now “engaging with the relevant authorities” to try and “constructively address this and the wider issues of safety, litter, and erosion” at Grantchester Meadows. At a meeting arranged for next week between the college and these local authorities, King’s hopes to “secure” the “co-operation” of these authorities to “quickly find a solution for the benefit of all.”

Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, Lucy Nethsingha, told Cambridgeshire Live that she believes the most “desirable outcome” would be “some sort of management plan” being set up for how “we can allow people to use the area safely.”

She said that Grantchester Meadows was not the right place for some of the activities banned by the sign, but that “swimming is one of the things that people have been doing there for a long time and we need to find a way to make it possible for people to swim.”

Asked what a solution to the difficult management issues might be, she said: “I don’t quite know what that might look like. But I am aware that there are other areas, not very far from there, where things seem to be managed reasonably well; Jesus Green is an interesting example.

“So I think one of the things is for us to look at how risk is managed in other bits of the river, to see if we can work with King’s to manage that in this area.”

Feature image credit: Matilda Head

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