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Historic Waterways 'in safe hands'

PUBLISHED: 12:03 05 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:33 30 June 2010

Assurances have been given about the future of Great Yarmouth's historic Waterways following a “do it up” plea from a local resident who remembers it in its prime.

Assurances have been given about the future of Great Yarmouth's historic Waterways following a “do it up” plea from a local resident who remembers it in its prime.

Robert Futter, 89, of Walpole Road, contacted The Mercury to complain about its present condition - his early memories of the seafront attraction only serving to highlight its decline.

“I remember when I was much younger there used to be iron gates at all the entrances, and it was a prized area that was beautiful.

“Now, it's only thanks to the hard work of the gardeners that it isn't an eyesore, and I just want something done about it - look at the pictures of how it used to be.”

Mr Futter, who has lived in Yarmouth all his life and still occasionally visits the spot in the summer, said he was sad that rundown elements were removed rather than repaired and put back.

“There is a wonderful shelter on the island there that looks lovely, but the bridge that connected to it has been taken down because of health and safety so now there's no way to get there. They're not willing to spend money on it”

However Graham Plant, whose responsibilities for Great Yarmouth Borough Council include regeneration and tourism said he wanted to reassure people that money was still being spent on the site - originally conceived as a grand job-creation scheme during the recession in 1929.

He said: “I would like to say that we have a budget of £20,000 a year to maintain the Waterways and it is not running down any more than it has been.”

Originally called Artificial Rivers and Gardens, in 1956 the old style boats were replaced by gondola style craft but in recent years few, or no, boats have floated down the 1200 yard stretch of water.

Mr Plant said that a plan touted by Labour leader Michael Castle to introduce 100 beach huts into the area to generate income for the site was rejected because it was deemed too risky for the Borough Council to take on.

However, he said: “Just because we can't do it doesn't mean a private business couldn't take up the idea”. He went on to suggest that new options were being considered, taking account of its conservation status.

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