A Melton Scout group fear the water sports activities they provide could be cut by half and children’s safety could be put at risk after councillors approved plans for a new dock on the River Eye.
The Melton and Oakham Waterways Society (MOWS) sought planning permission to build the twin dock for their river maintenance boats on Town Estate-owned land behind the Wilton Road car park, south of the 4th Melton Scout Group’s headquarters.
But one of the group’s long-serving Cub Scout leaders, Carl Culley, told Melton Council’s planning committee on Thursday that the proposed dock would ‘rob them of an area which they use all year round’ for various activities including kayaking, canoeing, constructing and launching rafts, building bridges over the river using trees as anchor points and using trees to sling hammocks.
He said: “We have 170 children with us. This proposal affects all of the children who use our water centre. “This dock will cut down by half what we can provide and remove half of the participants we can take out.”
Mr Culley, along with other objectors, also claimed the safety of scout members, as young as six, as well as other children and river users would be put at risk if the dock was built.
Michael Clowes, chairman of MOWS, told councillors the re-location of their working boats to the new lock would leave them handily placed to react to river emergencies, adding their proposals were supported by the Town Estate.
He added: “We commissioned a full ecological survey which seemingly found nothing untoward. I feel this is a simple, low impact build which will benefit the town and waterways enormously in the long term.”
Councillors Margaret Glancy and Elaine Holmes voiced their concerns about children’s safety at the site, with coun Holmes adding: “It’s a really dangerous place. If a child is drowned it will be on our conscience forever.”
The application was approved subject to conditions, including one that a suitable fence is erected at the dock, with the Environment Agency’s approval, otherwise the development may not be allowed to go ahead and the proposed scheme would have to go back to the committee.