Fleur Anderson, MP for Putney, Southfields and Roehampton, is working with local river clubs to oppose plans for an 80-metre passenger pier underneath the new stand at Fulham Football Club’s (FFC) stadium. If the pier and clipper ferry service goes ahead it will make the river so dangerous that other boats will not be able to use it.
There are around 4000 members across 41 clubs along this stretch of the river. Many of those 4000 members use this stretch of the river every day, as well as at least 30,000 participants in rowing races in the first quarter of the year. Approximately 1,400 children from clubs and rowing centres near Fulham Football Club use that part of the river several times a week, and there are also around 200 local Sea Scouts who use that part of the river to learn nautical activities.
Most clubs have significant numbers of young and learner members who would be at increased risk of collision with the large ferries. The pier would also potentially mean the end of the Boat Race on the Thames, as it has very fixed start and finish points in Putney and Mortlake, and it would severely impact preparations for the race.
Members of local clubs and stakeholders held a public meeting with Fleur Anderson MP to oppose the plans on Thursday 24th March. The clubs unanimously agreed that the pier would likely cause them to close, and that the future of the Boat Race and all racing on the Thames is under threat. People can show their support by signing the petition: Petition · Save Our Sports on the River Thames: STOP THE PIER · Change.org
Fleur Anderson, MP for Putney, said:
“I hope that Fulham Football Club will see sense, listen to all the clubs and stop these plans to build a huge pier out into the river. I’ve already worked with two local youth clubs to save them and keep opportunities for young people to use our river, but now this could mean they have to close.
“I have met with the Chief Executive of Fulham Football Club, the Port of London Authority and the Chief Executive of Wandsworth Council to make sure they understand the concerns of local river users and urge them to press Fulham to abandon their plans.
“It was great to meet with lots of local stakeholders at the Ranelagh Sailing Club to share our ideas for this campaign. We are certainly not going to take this lying down.”
FFC have already built a new stadium stand with a giant wind shadow that has impacted local sailing, and if this proposal for a new pier succeeds, the consequences for the community on our stretch of the river could be devastating.
The pier would considerably impact Putney’s community and local economy. Rowing, sailing, kayaking and paddleboarding would become much more dangerous, leading to a steep increase in insurance premiums and a decrease in the viability of all clubs. If local clubs close, it could cause surrounding local businesses to do the same. This would impact a crucial part of Putney’s economy, community, and heritage. Clubs like Ranelagh have enjoyed the stretch of river between Hammersmith and Putney Bridges for over one hundred years.
James Hayward, Commodore of Ranelagh Sailing Club, said:
“Just over the course of last weekend alone around 4,000 people rowed in the Heads of the River Race, with thousands of spectators lining the Thames from Chiswick to Putney. Next weekend it’s the Boat Race, with a global audience of millions. If this pier gets the greenlight and UBER ferries start ploughing their trade west of Putney Bridge then you can say goodbye to all rowing, sailing and other recreational activity in Putney and beyond. It would be devastating – all for 25 home matches a year at Fulham FC and a few commuters to the City. For the few or the many? STOP THE PIER.”
Many clubs came together to make objections to the plans at the meeting, including Ranelagh Sailing Club, South Bank Sailing Club, Vesta Rowing Club, Barn Elms Boathouse, Fulham Reach Boat Club, Thames Rowing Club, a local branch of the Sea Scouts, and more.
Fulham Reach Boat Club is an award-winning charity that specialises in bringing a diverse group of individuals onto the river, helping 14 local state schools get access to the river, with more that 60% of users female and around 50% from ethnic minority backgrounds.
A spokesperson for Fulham Reach Boat Club said:
“There is simply no way we can safely operate these sessions in the vicinity of this jetty and, in particular, the Uber Boats commuter service. The jetty itself will block off access to half of the river which will be needed in times of an emergency and the commuter boats turning to and from the jetty will use most of the remaining space.”
Statement from the Thames Regional Rowing Council:
“The Thames Regional Rowing Council strongly opposes a pier at this location. The addition of large ferries will make this part of the river significantly more hazardous for leisure users. The proposed pier will impact on all rowers including the numerous local clubs who get many hundreds of children active and on the water every year. Should this pier go ahead it is a matter of when, not if, there is a significant accident. It is essential that this area remains a safe place to learn to row and enjoy the river.”
Statement from British Rowing:
“British Rowing is concerned about the impact a new pier would have on grassroots water sports (including rowing) for not just the local community but nationally given how the river is used for major domestic events. We are listening to the concerns of our member clubs and rowers who regularly use the river in order to highlight the practical implications this new pier would have on rowing. We are committed to open dialogue with all parties to ensure the river is accessible and safe for all who use it.”
Statement from a local branch of the Sea Scouts:
“The proposed pier at Fulham Football Club, would make an already really busy stretch of river increasingly dangerous. This home water stretch is enjoyed by thousands of young people, not just the 200 sea scouts at the 4th Streatham, but other schools and youth river clubs along Putney embankment, where these children are just starting to learn nautical activities such as rowing, kayaking and sailing.”
Notes to Editors
- Pictures of the meeting at Ranelagh Sailing Club on Thursday 24th March are available, as are “Save Our River Clubs” and “Stop the Pier” graphics.
- Ranelagh Sailing Club have compiled more evidence on their website, including a video of a test run of the Uber Boat, screengrabs from FFC presentations, and aerial shots with the pier superimposed over: https://www.ranelaghsc.co.uk/ffc-pier/
- To arrange an interview with Fleur Anderson about the campaign, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07947 343 662.
- Fleur will be attending the Boat Race with local clubs on Sunday 3rd April and will be available for filming and/or interview on this issue there. Call 07855 746 095 during the weekend.
- The petition to Stop the Pier can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/2tj5jfy5.
- The Boat Race are keen to support the campaign – for a response contact: email@example.com