URGENT work is needed on the River Tone in Taunton to avoid a situation that “doesn’t bear thinking about”.

Unless action is taken within five years, the sluices structure at Firepool could give way, leading to a mud bath washing down stream, causing “considerable damage”, councillors heard on Monday.

It would also result in the water level of the Tone falling and banks collapsing, along with the foundations of riverside buildings.

The River Tone through Taunton task and finish group was told that two supports to the sluices at Firepool have already rotted and the sluices are out of action due to neglect.

A report to the meeting said: “The problem is that no-one seems to be responsible for the maintenance of these sluices.

“The consequence of a failure of the sluices sooner rather than later doesn’t beat thinking about!”

Delegates agreed on the need to focus on the river for the benefit of tourists and locals.

The meeting heard of concerns about the untidy, overgrown state of the Tone near the Brewhouse, with litter, obstructions such as shopping trolleys, shoal areas, rats and guano.

It is calling for.

*improved co-ordination and management.

*more recreation and commercial activities.

*a “relatively minor amount of work” to make the river a success.

*at least six viewing places stretching from Taunton Castle to Firepool Lock.

*an annual depth survey and dredging plan.

*litter picks.

*maintenance and cleaning of landing stages, slipways and wharves.

*publicity about events on the river.

*an annual regatta.

Taunton Deane Mayor Cllr Dave Durdan told the County Gazette: “The river is the jewel in our crown, Taunton’s biggest asset.

“We’ve got to get it cleaned up and to make it more usable.

“There have been some improvements, but much more needs to be done.

“I want to see Taunton as a leisure town where people can spend time on the river.”

The group meets again next month and is looking for any interested parties to join.