Campaigners celebrate bathing water success

27 Feb 2024
gideon french weir

Organisers of a campaign for the River Tone in Taunton's French Weir Park to be granted Bathing Water Status are delighted that their efforts have been successful.

Subject to a two-week consultation, it will be among 27 new designated swimming spots being created by the Environment Agency across England.

The campaign was supported by more than 300 people who went swimming in the Tone last summer.

It was submitted to Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) by Gideon Amos, the area's Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate, and Janine Appleton, chair of the Friends of French Weir Park.

Mr Amos, who drafted the application, said: “This is a massive win for ordinary Taunton residents and users of our River Tone.

"At last there will be proper monitoring of water quality and support and guidance for the many who swim in the river at French Weir, and recognition for something people have enjoyed as of right here for hundreds of years.

"Seeing Taunton really come together to back this idea, along with better bathing facilities, and the real passion to see our rivers improved - has been fantastic.

"It's a tribute to the Friends of French Weir and the Taunton community.”

Janine Appleton added: “I’m absolutely thrilled, as are the rest of the Friends of French Weir Park committee, at the news that we’ve reached the public consultation stage of our application for Bathing Water Status.

“Gideon Amos and I, along with the rest of the Friends committee, worked very hard to get this far, and the Safe Swim sessions we held last year at the river steps in French Weir Park showed just how valued our river is for both the local and wider community,

“It was amazing to see so many people enjoy swimming in the River Tone, which is something we look forward to again this year – as soon as the weather allows, of course!

“We're very much looking forward to continuing to support our wild swimmers, families, runners after the weekly Park Run, and everyone else who loves to take a dip in the Tone, and encourage everyone to go to the Defra website and complete the online survey before the deadline on March 10th.”