There will be a Canal Forum meeting between local residents and Parish Councils in the Pewsey area and boaters next Wednesday 23rd November 2016 at Stanton St Bernard Village Hall at 5.30pm for a 6pm start. This is a continuation of the previous meetings in 2014 and 2015 chaired by CRT in the Pewsey Vale to resolve issues between local residents and canal users, especially liveaboard boaters. Please come to this meeting, especially if you regularly moor your boat in the Long Pound.
It came to the attention of boaters in May 2016 that Wilcot Parish Council had agreed landscaping works with Wiltshire Council Highways Department that seemed to be aimed at preventing boaters parking their cars in the road beside the canal in Wilcot. This proposal would have also adversely affected other canal users, especially anglers, who like to fish the stretch near Wilcot and sometimes hold matches there. Many boaters moor in Wilcot because it is one of the few deep water moorings spots east of Devizes and because it’s one of the few places where you can get a vehicle near enough to unload coal, wood, gas bottles etc onto your boat without hauling it for miles along muddy towpaths and six feet or more across a plank.
Eight liveaboard boaters attended the Wilcot Parish Council meeting on 24th August to discuss this with the Parish Council, which stated that the landscaping works were aimed at improving vehicle parking. The boaters reported that it was a positive meeting and the Parish Council would really like more contact with the liveaboard boating community in the future and requested that we come and talk to them first if we have any more concerns. They proposed renewing consultation events with liveaboard boaters.
The Parish Council made these specific points about the landscaping:
1. The purpose of the overall work is not to stop boaters from parking in the lane, but to make it so that there were better verges so that it wouldn’t be so messy and muddy in the winter
2. To ensure that people would not be able to park their cars on the parts of the lane which were narrower. People are parking there at the moment and the more they do so, the nearer the bank they are getting, which is wearing it away.
3. To ensure that people didn’t park right near the houses at either end of the lane (on the whole, boaters do not park vehicles near these houses).
One boater will visit the site with the surveyor to ensure that any work is reasonable. The meeting gave boaters a chance to express their concerns about the growing issues that our community is facing at the moment, and to explain that places like Wilcot are getting more busy, simply because boaters are being are forced to travel further outside of their normal communities and the places that they know. Boaters also pointed out that that the increase in boaters’ and anglers’ cars on the lane is also due to the fact that the landowner at Lady’s Bridge has seen fit to reduce the parking spaces at his end, which has then put more pressure on other places.
Boaters also invited residents to a towpath tidy between Stowell and Lady’s Bridge on 4th September. This was successfully carried out, including some well-earned refreshment afterwards at the Golden Swan, Wilcot’s only pub.