A NEW scheme hoping to make use of the town's fruitful fishing resources has been launched.

The Thames Angling Parking Scheme launched on Friday (June 16) to promote fishing and encourage anglers to return to the sport.

With nearly three miles of river bank under the control of Reading Borough Council, free fishing is available in large stretches of the River Thames.

However, a number of parking restrictions have made it difficult for anglers to access the river in recent years.

The initiative was developed in conjunction with the help of Martin Salter, former councillor and Reading West MP, who is now the head of campaigns for the Angling Trust.

He said: “Right across the country, councils have introduced systems to deter long term parking near parks and leisure centres for perfectly understandable reasons.

“I know from my own time as a public representative the problems caused by people using these sites as unofficial park and ride spaces when looking to commute.

“The public stretches of the River Thames in Reading is the best open air leisure centre anyone could wish for and our new scheme will hopefully see more local anglers back on the river.”

Fishermen with an Environment Agency approved rod licence will be able to apply for a permit a discounted price, which will allow them to display a sticker and fish at designated spots, including Rivermead and Kings Meadow.

Councillor Sarah Hacker, lead member for Culture, Sport and Consumer services, added: “We are so lucky to have this fantastic section of the River Thames running right through the heart of our town.

“I am really pleased that the council and the Angling Trust have worked together to get more people fishing on the river.

“Parking and access are always difficult issues to resolve, particularly for something like angling which is not a short session activity.”

The permits will be on sale on Monday from Thames Valley Angling at 258 Kentwood Hill, Tilehurst.