Trust floats project for River Slea trips

The grand opening of the lifting bridge over the River Slea in 2010 served as a perfect demonstration of how the river trip boat might work, as being suggested again now. EMN-160202-112145001

The grand opening of the lifting bridge over the River Slea in 2010 served as a perfect demonstration of how the river trip boat might work, as being suggested again now. EMN-160202-112145001

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Sleaford could improve its attraction to visitors by offering boat trips up and down the River Slea.

Plans are in discussion led by Sleaford Navigation Trust to have a 12-seater river trip boat operating between Eastgate Green, next to the National Centre for Craft and Design, and down to Cogglesford Mill and back.

In a report to the Trust’s newsletter, chairman Chris Hayes says: “Not only would this provide an additional tourist experience for those on the boat but also for the visitors able to sit and watch the operation of the lift bridge and the passing of the boat.”

She said plans are at an early stage but preliminary discussion has met with general enthusiasm from the public and local councils.

She said the project could be put forward for funding and could provide an income stream for the Trust.

There are a number of funding streams that could be tapped into to float the idea which was spawned out of meetings of the Sleaford Regeneration Group, made up of businesspeople and interested parties, which advises on the district’s masterplan for Sleaford development.

The group had frequently returned to the question of how to encourage more visitors to the town and reasons to extend their stay.

Although not committing to any direct funding, North Kesteven District Council confirmed it would gladly help with advice and signposting to agencies that might help.

Leader of the council Marion Brighton said: “I am very interested in the aspirations of the Navigation Trust in respect of boat trips between Eastgate Green and Cogglesford Mill and would welcome engagement in further exploratory discussions.

“While I have no doubt that there is still a great deal of work, research and planning involved in developing this concept, it is an idea which I am sure the council and wider town community would endorse in its potential to add to Sleaford’s visitor appeal and enjoyment.

“As a council we have our own aspirations for improving the awareness and interest in Cogglesford Mill, Navigation House and the wider riverside offer, coupled with our regeneration ambitions for the town, and I am sure that we would offer whatever practical support we could to the Trust in pursuing its complementary projects.”

The potential for the scheme was demonstrated when several pleasure craft were motored up and down the river to celebrate the grand opening of the new lifting bridge back in 2010.

Eastgate Green is owned by the Town Council and Mayor of Sleaford, Coun Garry Titmus, has also expressed interest in the project.