Punting in Bedford?

As part of a drive to enable more residents and visitors to enjoy the Borough’s River Great Ouse, Bedford Borough Council is looking to introduce rowing boat, canoe and chauffeured punt hire from the centre of Bedford.

The Council has invited expressions of interest from suitably experienced operators to run a commercial service from the steps by Town Bridge opposite the junction of Newnham Road and The Embankment.

Commenting, Mayor Dave Hodgson, said: “The river really is one of the Borough’s greatest assets, and I want us to make the most of it as a destination for residents and visitors to Bedford to enjoy.  By enabling more leisure use of the river in the centre of town we can increase opportunities for residents to enjoy their river and make Bedford an even more attractive destination, drawing in more visitors and boosting the local economy.  We have worked closely with the Bedford River Partnership on proposals to open up the river and its potential benefits to the wider community while preserving all current uses. There is real enthusiasm for reintroducing punts and other leisure craft, which were a common sight in Bedford in the past.”

Martyn Pearson, Chair of the Bedford River Partnership, said: “We are looking to reintroduce leisure facilities on the river and have been working in partnership with Bedford Borough Council, local businesses and individuals to attract prospective operators. We passionately believe this venture will maximise the potential of the river, which is widely acknowledged as Bedford’s ‘jewel in the crown’.”

At this stage, the council is calling for suitably experienced operators to express their interest to the Property Services Department, by Friday 11th February 2011.

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