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River Tyne at Hexham will not get motor-boat ban

A MOTORBOAT ban on a stretch of the Tyne where a near-tragedy occurred in July is now not going to go ahead.

The River Tyne at Hexham

A MOTORBOAT ban on a stretch of the Tyne where a near-tragedy occurred in July is now not going to go ahead.

Two men and a boy were rescued from the river at Hexham when their motor dinghy was sucked over a weir by the strong current.

The incidents sparked calls for a ban on motorised craft in an area where local rowing clubs regularly train.

Hexham town mayor Coun Rad Hare took up the case – but after being told there were very few incidents, the idea has now been dropped.

Geoff Higgins of the Hexham Queen Elizabeth School rowing club said: “Because there is almost always a presence there, and because people taking motorboats on to the river is very rare, we said a ban wasn’t necessary.

“Virtually the only time I ever see a motorised vehicle on the river is at the Hexham regatta. The July incident was a one-off, and we have our own safety procedures. But if they ever started coming in in bigger numbers, then we might have to think again.”

During the most recent rescue, fire crews had to winch the dinghy occupants to safety using ropes lowered from the bridge.

The possibility of warning signs on the river approach to the weir is still on the table for discussion.

Hexham Town Council approached Northumberland County Council to consider a ban, but investigations revealed the stretch of the river concerned belongs to Allendale Estates as riparian owners responsible for drainage of their own land.

Coun Hare said: “The whole thing came up after the instance on the Tyne in the summer.

“But the people who use the Tyne there say there isn’t a problem with motorboats and therefore we are not pursuing a ban.”

In February 2011 a 33-year-old canoeist, Andrew Weatherill of Hartlepool, died on the Tyne at Riding Mill after rowing down-river from Hexham.

Mr Higgins said: “We stopped him going over the weir at Hexham, but sadly he got into difficulty further down and could not be saved.

“And quite recently a man in a kayak with two children as young as three turned up on the river at Hexham and had to be advised.

“But they were not motorised craft – it’s more of an issue that people aren’t aware of the dangers.”

The people who use the Tyne there say there isn’t a problem with motorboats

 

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