A NEW emergency slipway in Tewkesbury which will help improve water rescue response times and save lives has nearly been completed.

The slipway, at The Hangings, is due to be handed over to Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue on Friday.

Over the past five weeks, the slipway has been under construction by contractors Kilbury Construction and P Williams and Sons after the site was identified as the best location to provide a safe launch and retrieval for a water rescue boat on that stretch of water.

Final landscaping and security works will now take place before the slipway becomes fully operational towards the end of September and fire Crews can begin training from it.

Following a number of rescue and recovery operations on this stretch of water, Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service (GFRS) requested permission for development of the slipway in 2004 through the land owners, Avon Navigational Trust (ANT).

Councillor Will Windsor-Clive, cabinet member for communities, said: “This is great news for the fire service and the people of Gloucestershire.

“Having the slipway will mean we are able to directly access a stretch of river close to Tewkesbury town – something that we’ve never had before.

“This, of course, will mean that our response times will be improved – by up to as much as 20 minutes.

“I am delighted that we will soon be putting the slipway into practice.”