I’ve been getting loads of calls and emails asking for a quick and dirty rundown of the story so far – so here goes…
In August, news leaked out that the whitewater course in Nottingham was going to shut down over the winter to turn it into a fast, shallow and even-gradient course for slalom canoe trainking. In fact, I might have had something to do with posting that information. The problem was that no-one had told the other people who use the course – like recreational paddlers, whitewater rafters, water safety and rescue training professionals, playboaters or wild water racers – let alone asked for their input.
So a handful of us got together to try and put over our opinion a little more forcefully. Emails, phone calls, message boards, facebook, blogs and the rest. Even a draft report (100kb PDF) to explain the needs and requirements of all the different users. We got support from nearly 600 paddlers – more than enough to call an Extraordinary Genreral Meeting of the BCU. It didn’t come to that, though, because by the end of August the BCU called a public meeting to quell speculation and present the plans.
How did the meeting go? Well, if you were there you won’t forget it. Tensions ran high among the 80 or so people who came along, and the discussion ranged from good-humoured to, well, strained… But by the end of the evening, there was a clear way forward.
It all came down to a user group – a handful of paddlers and course users who were happy to give their time and knowledge to the project to try and make sure that the project would turn out for the better. Working with Chris Hawkesworth, the BCU facilities manager, and Andy Laird, their design consultant who’s developed a complex computer model of the course, we’ve been meeting most weeks recently to try and make this project work.
Now it’s all coming to a head. We need to decide if these plans are working by the end of the month, and there’s a public meeting on Wednesday October 22nd in Nottingham to do that.
It’s at 7pm at the Rugby Club, behind the Peak UK shop at Holme Pierrepont (directions). If the course’s future matters to you, please do your best to come along and join us. I’ll post the plans up beforehand so we’ve got a good chance to get to grips with them first. And keep an eye on this blog for information in the meantime.