Barge owner floats party cruises plan

A CONVERTED barge may soon be taking birthday and wedding parties on trips along the river at Ely. Lincolnshire businesswoman Sarah Sims plans to bring a 48ft barge to Ely, which would be moored outside The Maltings to take pre-booked parties of between 5

A CONVERTED barge may soon be taking birthday and wedding parties on trips along the river at Ely.

Lincolnshire businesswoman Sarah Sims plans to bring a 48ft barge to Ely, which would be moored outside The Maltings to take pre-booked parties of between 50 and 60 people on trips.

Ms Sims has applied to East Cambridgeshire District Council for a licence to serve alcohol and provide entertainment between 9am and midnight every day.

The barge, named Marianne, is currently undergoing refurbishment in Lincolnshire and Ms Sims, who runs a similar business in Boston, said she hopes the boat will be operating by the spring.


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The application follows recent plans to moor a floating restaurant at the river in Ely, a proposal that provoked outrage among residents and businesses who felt the riverside was already overcrowded.

Steve Haslam, of The Cutter Inn, said his concerns about the restaurant proposals equally apply to this latest application.

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"It's still going to be people embarking and disembarking - there will be noise when they arrive and when they leave and I think it's going to receive the same objections," he said.

"I don't want it to come across as sour grapes, but I think this will set a precedent that can only end in a beautiful stretch of the river becoming like Blackpool."

Ms Sims said the majority of the river trips would take place during the day. "There would be very short-term noise in the evening," she said, "but I am aiming at the coach market - I'm not aiming for booze cruises.

"In Boston, we ask people to keep the noise down when they're in residential areas.

"We are looking forward to meeting both locals and tourists in Ely and hope we will all enjoy the waterways and benefit from this facility."

Rowland Wilson, licensing officer at the council, said Ms Sims will have to contact about 10 other organisations, including the police and riverside groups, as part of her application.

If there are no objections within 28 days, the scheme can go ahead.

Mr Wilson will begin a mediation process if there are objections. If no agreement is reached, the application becomes a matter for the licensing committee.

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