If you’re thinking of taking a dip in the eddies and whirlpools of raw effluent that make up London’s dirty old river, then there’s now a further disincentive.
From tomorrow, as well as being at risk of contracting e-coli and all manner of other nastiness, if you swim in the Thames (well, the tidal bit of it anyway) you’ll also be committing a crime.
The new Port of London Authority (PLA) Thames Byelaws 2012 will come into effect on Sunday 1 July 2012 after a five-year process of review and consultation with river users.
The byelaws that have been revised or added cover areas including diving, local knowledge requirements, speed limits, carriage of Thames AIS (Automatic Identification Systems), swimming and protection of the foreshore.
The byelaws were last changed in 1978.
PLA chief harbour master, David Phillips, comments:
“And if you want to get a feel for how much things have changed, just remember in 1978, commercial activity in the port was declining, there were no mobile phones, the Bee Gees were topping the charts and the Ford Cortina was the best selling car.”
Truly a golden age.
And Britain was on the verge of bankruptcy then too...just to add a note of familiarity.
Back on the river, in the 34 years since the byelaws were last changed, Phillips says:
“ we now have growing commercial activity in the estuary and sea reaches, with ships becoming bigger and bigger, London Gateway due to start up next year, busy commuter ferry services and increasing use of the river by leisure vessels, combined with the established use for moving freight through London.”
Not everyone’s happy with the new law though.
Matthew Parris, who’s been known to take a dip in the Thames himself, on BBC 4’s Today programme this morning called the PLA “the vortex of all evil” and said just because it’s dangerous, like swimming in the sea, that’s no reason to make it illegal – given most of the deaths in the Thames are suicides.