TOP-LEVEL talks are to be held to discuss the future of the River Colne in Halstead town centre.

The Colne has been a hot topic of conversation after water levels were allowed to drop and the state of the river gradually deteriorated.

Campaigner John Smith, from Halstead, has been working to restore the river for the past three months.

He has organised a meeting in April with the Environment Agency and is also inviting the town and Braintree councils, Halstead fire service, MP James Cleverly and Townsford Mill owner John de Bruyne.

Mr Smith said: “I hope to achieve a discussion about the future of the river, for the Environment Agency to put their view across, and for interested parties to put their view across.

“As a result I hope we can attain a way forward so that the state of the river can be improved and be back to something like what it was.

“I think there is a chance – I’m feeling positive.”

Mr Smith has also been distributing petitions around the town and asking residents to make a pledge of money towards the restoration of the river.

He said Halstead Road Runners had already pledged £500.

“I’m not asking people to donate money – I’m asking them to make a pledge of money,” said Mr Smith.

“It’s no good if the Environment Agency turn around and say they are not going to do anything.

“There will be a greater chance if it is seen that residents are willing to put their hands in their pockets.”