AN ACCESSIBLE boat club has had to dramatically rethink its plans for a new home at Fleming Boat House after the club was told to look elsewhere.

Wallingford Accessible Boat Club (WABC) makes boating possible for disabled people in Wallingford and the surrounding area.

The boat club had plans with Oxford University Boat Club to use the Fleming Boat House site; however, those plans have fallen through despite the club gaining planning permission causing the club to dramatically rethink its plans for a new site.

John Jenkins MBE, Chair of Trustees WABC, explained that after two years of discussions with Oxford University Boat Club the plans were ‘terminated’.

He said: “At the end of last year we faced a major disappointment when our discussions with the Oxford University Rowing Clubs based at Fleming Boat House were abruptly terminated.

“Evidently they had decided we were not wanted and told us in no uncertain terms to look elsewhere.

“Our discussions with them had gone on for the past two years and we had even secured Planning Permission for our storage shed on their land at the expense of considerable cost and time – you can imagine our disbelief.

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“So we had no option but to look elsewhere which would cause a significant delay to our project.”

Now, WABC eyes are now firmly set on the South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) owned location at The Riverside, Wallingford, for a new operating headquarters adjacent to Wallingford Swimming Pool.

Mr Jenkins said: “All is far from lost. Our research has determined that The Riverside, adjacent to Wallingford Swimming Pool area, might offer a better home for us.

“Whilst it is early days, the site owners, SODC, are very supportive and are working hard with us to navigate the processes necessary to upgrade an existing pathway and ramp down to the waterside at the north end of the site where once upon a time diving boards were positioned.

“We then have to construct a Passenger Slipway and there we have it. Other necessary facilities such as toilets and car parking are already in place.

“There’s a lot of work still to be completed but we have a plan that will take us forward. SODC’s position is very encouraging.”

Despite the project delays WABC are hoping to offer a temporary service this coming summer dependent of course on the prevailing Covid situation.

Mr Jenkins said: “We are used to knocks and setbacks – we have been through many of them - but we are confident we will prevail and get the disabled in the Wallingford area out and about on the river later this year.”

The accessible club has a Wheelyboat, which is a wheelchair accessible boat.

The boat simply enables wheelchair users to roll-on and off the flat-bottomed boat.

In September 2020, WABC returned its wheelchair accessible boat to the water and took it upstream to Benson Weir and then downstream to Goring.

People on the riverside and in passing boats clapped and waved as the wheelchair friendly boat called WOW-one, travelled along the water.

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