Individuals swimming in the River Cam under the influence of alcohol and other drugs are causing “significant problems for the emergency services”, according to the CollegeAndrew Abbott/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

King’s College has stated that “anti-social behaviour” is a significant reason as to why they have banned swimming, boating, and barbecues at Grantchester Meadows.

The College has said that it would be “irresponsible” to allow swimming to continue when behaviour has become “unsafe” and poses a “risk to life” due to individuals swimming while intoxicated.

It said: “Unfortunately, Grantchester Meadows has become a frequent site for large gatherings of individuals entering the River Cam under the influence of alcohol and other drugs, and subsequently requiring medical assistance.

“Sadly it has become increasingly apparent that this not only causes significant problems for the emergency services, but also brings with it a serious risk to life.

“As such it would be irresponsible for the college to continue to encourage swimming in an area where it is unsafe to do so.”

A petition to maintain access to Grantchester Meadows has reached over 9,000 signatures since it was started yesterday (01/07).

The news of the ban was circulated to local Cambridge residents in a letter from Cambridgeshire County Council leader Lucy Nethsingha.

A noticeboard was erected yesterday (01/07) on the meadows also banning camping and launching boats from the river banks.

King’s College, who have owned much of the land on Grantchester Meadows for centuries, has also stated that the new restrictions are a result of “a large number of reports from local residents about those bringing watercraft to the Cam through the Meadows and being very unsociable - blocking local roadways and drives, being rude to local residents and also discarding their punctured vessels.”

“As we have seen far too often over the summer”, the College stated, “this kind of antisocial behaviour reduces everyone’s enjoyment of the meadows and poses a significant threat to the local wildlife.”

The third reason that the College has given for the restrictions is concerns over erosion of the river bank over the last 18 months as a result of increased activity.

King’s College said: “Both the county council and Cam Valley Forum have raised serious concerns about erosion to the riverbank along Grantchester Meadows, and the effect this is now also having on the public footpath.

“This erosion is in large part due to people entering and exiting the river, or improperly mooring their vessels to the bank.”

The College added that the new regulations have been put in place after consultation with local council representatives and “at the behest of the local elected representatives.”

The College has proposed that the council install “safe-swimming points” along the Cam as an alternative to the use of the meadows.

The College added: “We fully appreciate that swimming in the Cam is a popular activity and has numerous benefits for physical and mental health.


Mountain View

Swimming banned at Grantchester Meadows

“The college has no desire to prevent anyone from sensibly exercising their right to swim in the Cam, or to navigate the Cam by kayak, punt or other vessel – indeed, we wholeheartedly wish that the meadows will be used and enjoyed respectfully by all.

“Nevertheless, we cannot in good conscience give our consent to these activities continuing as they currently are, with the evident dangers they pose to life, the consequences they have for others’ use of the meadows, and the damage they are causing to the physical integrity of the land.”

The petition emphasises that while “the land is owned by the college, it has been an asset of community value for over 500 years” as “one of the greatest areas of natural beauty lying within easy reach for city residents.”

It adds that closing off use of the river will “shut down traditions dear to the people of Cambridge, and choke our connection with its beautiful natural surroundings.”

It describes that the way the ban has been presented “feels very much like the gown dismissing the town”, and calls for a public consultation to “discuss workable solutions that meet the environmental, community and landowner needs without the need for stringent measures.”