Thursday, 07 July 2022

Councillor made river ‘champion’

Councillor made river ‘champion’

A COUNCILLOR has been put in charge of promoting and encouraging sustainable use of the River Thames.

Jo Robb is South Oxfordshire District Council’s first Thames Champion.

He role will involve networking with river users, fellow councillors and neighbouring councils to improve access as well as protecting and enhancing the biodiversity and cleanliness of the river.

Councillor Robb, who represents Rotherfield and Woodcote on the council, said: “The River Thames is the ribbon that wends its way through our district and it has been great to see many people able to enjoy spending time on or by the river since the restrictions began to be lifted.

“Following covid-19, many people have a renewed appreciation for nature and I’m very keen that we now don’t miss this opportunity to look at how we improve the safety, cleanliness and accessibility of the Thames in South Oxfordshire. It is one of our most precious natural assets and should be protected and we need to ensure our use of it is sustainable.

“Our first challenge will be to address the repeated release of raw sewage into the river and, in the meantime, to ensure that river users and our community have real-time information about when this happens.”

Cllr Robb, who is originally from Sydney, is one of the five Henley Mermaids who are to attempt a cross-Channel relay swim this year in aid of Henley Music School. She lives in Shepherds Green with her husband Philip and stood for the Green Party in the Henley constituency at December’s general election.

Council leader Sue Cooper said: “The River Thames is such an important feature of our district but it hasn’t been prioritised as such in recent years.

“Now is the right time to put the river back at the heart of council policy and to work with partners to enhance access and water quality.

“We are lucky enough to have the longest stretch of this major river within our district and it is about time that we did more to protect and sensibly use this wonderful resource."

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