The former mayor of High Wycombe says his "Christmas wish" would be for the River Wye to be reopened through the centre of town.

Cllr Brian Pearce told the Bucks Free Press the town used to be a "place to be proud of" with a "vibrant street market, a rich heritage and highly distinguished industrial record".

But the Booker councillor says it is now "sadly a very different story" - adding that a "massive" improvement would be to reopen the River Wye through the town from near Aldi in Baker Street to High Wycombe fire station near Abbey Way.

His comments come weeks after Wycombe District Council shelved "ambitious" plans to bring the concreted-over river back to the surface in a project that was predicted to cost around £3 million.

Last month, councillors decided not to commit cash to make the idea a reality - saying it was “hard to quantify” the benefits of it in monetary terms, even though they recognised the environmental and health advantages.

The plan had been given the thumbs-up by the High Wycombe Society, which has always supported returning the important chalk stream to the surface again.

The river was buried in the 1960s when the town centre was "modernised".

Cllr Pearce told the Bucks Free Press: "The River Wye is known as a chalk stream, a type that is very rare and furthermore I believe that half the world's chalk streams are located in the South East of England so the river should be doubly cherished and preserved.

"I feel very sorry for a fellow councillor, Hugh McCarthy, who has spent almost decades in producing feasibility studies, costings and quantification and who has additionally visited several towns and cities where this exercise has been carried out.

"Of course when the river was buried under the town centre and the fly over was constructed in the 1960s, concrete was king; the material of modernity.

"Although the cost to reopen the river would be in the region of some three million pounds, it is estimated the return ratio back into the economy would be approximately seven to one.

"If I could have Christmas wishes, it would be that we could spend this money that WDC has proposed on the centre of the town, that the river could be reopened and most importantly, that we could have a town council."