Wilcot Parish Council has proposed installing bollards in the lane by the canal to prevent vehicles parking. This is the latest idea by the parish council to stop boaters parking their cars in the lane. It is not clear at present whether the proposal is to prevent parking throughout the lane.
In 2016 the parish council decided to carry out more extensive works in the lane that would have prevented parking in some parts of the lane and improved parking in the wider part of the lane by putting down road planings to make the area less muddy. However on receiving an estimate of over £17,000 for this work, the parish council decided this was unaffordable.
Instead it discussed getting a licence to adopt the verge of the lane under a Section 96 (Highways Act 1980) agreement; applying for a Traffic Restriction Order to make the lane a clearway, restricting parking, which would be enforced by County Council, and getting the Council to install bollards. The most recent parish council minutes show that it had agreed to delay applying for a licence to adopt the verge; that no further discussion of making the lane a clearway had taken place, and that it had held a meeting on 28th January 2020 with Wiltshire Council Highways Department to discuss installing bollards.
The parish council is also concerned about the safety implications of cars parking on the canal bridge, and has asked Wiltshire Council to paint white ‘H’ lines to prevent unsafe parking there. All types of canal users park in the lane: anglers, liveaboard boaters, leisure boaters and canal towpath walkers. The parish council is very well aware that if parking in the lane is prevented, waterway users will park in the main part of the village, which could be inconvenient to residents.
Extracts from the parish council minutes over the past 4 years, which we publish below, reveal how the residents of Wilcot view the liveaboard boating community. For example it minuted in March 2019 that “Problems which need to be addressed by the CRT include increased quantity and decreased quality of canal traffic” and that “it was noted that there were more than fifty boats between Wilcot and Pewsey Wharf on one day before Christmas”. The minutes also show that local residents are recording boat numbers and how long boats stay in the village, a clear invasion of our privacy. We understand that CRT will not record boat sightings that are not taken by its own staff/volunteers, although it will in some cases investigate complaints about boaters.
This prejudiced attitude is still far too common despite a series of apparently constructive meetings between the liveaboard community and residents of Wilcot and other canalside villages in the Pewsey Vale held between 2014 and 2018.
Below are extracts from the parish council minutes and other correspondence between 2016 and 2020.
Extracts from Wilcot and Huish (with Oare) Parish Council minutes:
16/31 To receive an update on parking next to the canal at Wilcot.
Cllr Nix reported that a productive meeting was held on 23 May 2016 between Parish Council, residents and a representative from Wiltshire Council Highways department. The Estate manager has also been involved. The proposal is to build up the bank along the north side of the road down to Cannings Cottage, and allow the hedge to grow over it but not too far to obstruct the carriage way. Some parking bays will be created on the wider section to avoid pushing the parking problem elsewhere in the village. The Estate have agreed to carry out the proposed works, but they do not wish to use their own vehicles. It was proposed that Parish Council hire a digger that they can use (see item 16/25). Another local landowner has offered to donate hard-core to build up the bank. The highways representative has said he is happy with this proposal; it was suggested that we obtain written confirmation for our records.
17/10 To receive an update on the road verge by the canal at Wilcot
The canal verge proposal is not to remove parking but to improve it. There is no right to park on the highway. The verge is private property beyond the highways designation of around 1 metre. But it is acknowledged that it is an amenity for canal users. So the plan is to improve parking where there is room and restrict it where there is not. Also to improve access for farm and emergency vehicles. Improving with hard standing by gateway (access to field is required by landowner) and the wider areas suitable for parking. With a no parking buffer zone at Cannings Cottage end and Wilcot Village end. The Chair encourages all canal users to report anti-social behaviour to 101.
Resolved (ACTION) to get costing so this can be moved forward DN. Cllr DW proposed, Cllr DN seconded; all in favour.
Report back from a boater who attended Wilcot Parish Council meeting 11th January 2017:
So reporting back from the Wilcot parish council meeting I went to yesterday evening. It seems the lane will stay with parking on it and they are looking to improve the condition of the parking area. This however will be designed to encourage us to park in the middle of the lane, where it is widest. Not at either end. one end being close to a property and the other end the junction. Seeing as the first meter of verge is national highway and the rest is owned by the estate, or so I’m told, this I feel is a nice thing for the combined village councils to be paying for. There is no need to park stupidly and block the lane so emergency services can not reach our emergencies!
Extracts from Wilcot and Huish (with Oare) Parish Council minutes:
Canal – Wilcot:
Work on improving the parking along the canal verge side will commence this spring. The aim is to stop parking where the lane is too narrow to allow for parking and emergency vehicle access. In addition the work will improve the parking surface where the lane is wider. This should benefit both residents and users of the canal.
26.2 Wilcot Canal Verge repairs and improvement
Cllr Wilson had been in touch with a contractor to take over this project and was also negotiating with Wiltshire Council highways department for the provision of road planings to be used in the work.
June 2018 Project updates
41.1 Update on potential canal works in Wilcot
Two quotes were presented in the meeting and the Parish Council would like to thank DW and the two organisations for the time taken to prepare these. As both quotations were for over £17,000 it was agreed that it would not be possible to go ahead with the works as quoted. Firstly, the Parish Council could not afford this level of expenditure. Secondly, the benefit to the residents of the Parish would be very insignificant compared to the cost and that those who would benefit the most would be those using the canal and who do not make any contribution to Parish Council funds, not those living in the Parish. Cllr DW suggested that we do a section at a time to spread the costs. The councillors discussed how important it is to protect the tree roots. Proposed: To request quotes for installation of a wooden fence around the tree. Proposed: Cllr RF: Seconded: DW: all in favour. Cllr Wilson to get a quote for this work.
To discuss obstruction of tow path/anti-social behaviour and parking issues at the canal in Wilcot.
A Cllr went to investigate, and the litter and blockage had been cleared so complaint was not valid. More boats and cars on the lane again so we can expect more complaints. This is not illegal parking. CRT do not appear to be interested in this issue. Boats appear to be overstaying again. A resident is doing a survey currently to provide evidence. Cllr DN will respond to the resident reiterating there is very little we can do. Report as wilful obstruction or unnecessary obstruction to 101.
18/87 Cllr DW to send the letter to the estate re fencing the trees off.
100.8 – Parish Council has obtained 4 quotes for works to protect the trees along the lane between Wilcot Bridge & Cannings Cottage. However, our County Councillor has spoken to Highways who have suggested they would be willing to support options of:
Installing wooden stakes along the road to limit parking; and
Enacting an order to make the lane a clearway, restricting parking, which would be enforced by County Council.
The clearway could potentially include the dangerous areas close to Wilcot bridge where parking has also become a problem more recently. It is suggested that we approach CATG for funding to implement these options – however we need more information from Highways about exactly what they will need from us. We also need to keep any affected residents & landowners informed.
Resolved: Clerk/Chair to contact County Council & Highways to clarify exactly what our options are, and what our next steps should be. Clerk/DN to contact CC/Highways for more info/way forward
Jan2019 Project updates
08.1 Update on CATG/Highways meeting in Wilcot Jan 16th 2019 Cllr PO apologised for not having been able to attend the site meeting with Cllrs DN and DW and Mark Stansby and Richard Dobson of Highways. It was noted that on an average day, three cars are parked on the bridge; Mark Stansby to arrange for a deterrent white ‘H’ line in the first instance. Richard Dobson advised that it may be possible to adopt part of the verge under a Section 96 agreement, subject to periodic review and re-application by the parish council. The parish council would then be responsible for cultivation and maintenance of the verge but could also opt to put in large wooden stakes with light reflectors to prevent parking; CATG funding could be available for this. It was agreed that although the adoption process seemed to be a convoluted approach to achieving what Highways could do, no further action would be taken until Richard Dobson has reported back as to whether there are any services below the ground and whether this verge can be adopted. Cllr DN had attended the CRT meeting in October and there is a suggestion that a CRT representative may come to Wilcot for a site visit. It was agreed that enforcement of canal regulations is far too weak; Cllr CB suggested making an FOI request in order to find out what data the CRT gathers regarding barge movements and how they utilise it. Cllr DW to send information regarding the derelict boat to the Clerk, who will inform the CRT and request its immediate removal.
March 2019 Project updates
18.1 Update on CATG/Highways meeting in Wilcot Jan 16th and CATG meeting on March 6th
Cllr CB reported that round concrete planters would be acceptable to Highways as a solution to preventing parking. Maintenance of the planting and local opposition to the aesthetical appearance were noted as downsides to this idea. Clerk to contact Unitary Cllr PO to pursue the original proposal of bollards with reflectors. RK/CB
Cllr CB reported that the CRT had proposed a team of volunteers to patch up the area used for parking. Problems which need to be addressed by the CRT include increased quantity and decreased quality of canal traffic, both of which generate income for the CRT but cause the crowded conditions; it was noted that there were more than fifty boats between Wilcot and Pewsey Wharf on one day before Christmas. The lack of sufficient visitor moorings in Wilcot was noted. It was noted that Good Friday may cause extra problems due to the Devizes-Westminster canoe race. Clerk to write to Marlborough College and Dauntsey’s to request considerate parking when meeting school canoeists and to point out that Pewsey Wharf is the local facility provided for this.
Clerk to contact Mark Stansby to pursue white lines on the approaches to the bridge and on the bridge. Clerk to contact Richard Dobson to pursue the verge asset transfer. It was agreed that taking surveys would not violate GDPR as only boat numbers would be collected with no personal data recorded. Cllr DN to confirm date of next area CRT meeting (23rd May?)
May 2019 It was noted that the white lining on the canal bridge is not yet done; Clerk to chase
Richard Dobson and ‘cc’ Cllr PO.
Clerk has obtained licence application forms for the verge by the canal but awaits clarification from Highways as to whether it is a S96 or S142 that is required.
Letter to K&A Boaters from Dale Marshall, then CRT Operations Manager for the K&A, May 2019:
CRT’s Dale Marshall reported back to K&A Boaters that in May 2019 “I had a meeting with some reps from Wilcot parish council and Wiltshire a few weeks ago. We discussed the parking in the lane that runs parallel with the canal from the bridge. The areas where cars are parking are quite badly rutted and very muddy. The Parish council would like to tidy the area up, improve the parking and the general look of the area. Wiltshire council are hoping to provide some road planings and concrete pipe work, so planters can be put over the areas where the tree roots are being damaged. The areas where cars are parking, or they want them to park, will be levelled off and road planing’s compacted over the top, to make nicer spots for cars to park. They will potentially erect some fencing to encourage the cars to park down one side of the lane only. We’d also like to close up some of the entrances that have been created through the hedge, from memory there were something between 12 and 18 of them. To this end we will purchase some hedging whips to plant up and potentially some small fencing whilst the hedge establishes itself. All parties would like to work with the boaters who frequent this area, to improve it for everyone. Would one of you like to be the contact, or do you know someone who is in the area regularly ? If so please contact Caroline Robson to take it forward.”
Extracts from Wilcot and Huish (with Oare) Parish Council minutes:
43.5 Section 96 licence
Further to minute ref 19/31, it was agreed to apply for a licence. Cllrs CB and RF to produce sketch plan of the verge, showing proposed planting and bollards, to accompany the application. CB/RF/RK
19/45 Clerk’s Report
45.1 To discuss canal complaints received
Clerk had been cc’d in an email chain between a resident and the Canal & Rivers Trust. Clerk had circulated a summary of the email thread and reported that the Canal & Rivers Trust had advised the complainant to report the matters to the police and Environmental Health Officer, which the complainant was reluctant to do. It was agreed that the Clerk should forward the summary to the police and, if RK appropriate according to location, report the littering via MyWiltshire
55.4 Section 96 licence/bollards for canal verge at Wilcot. It had been agreed by email to delay applying for a licence and reconsider asking Highways to install some bollards. Cllr Oatway had since advised that this request will need to be referred to Richard Dobson of Highways. Clerk to follow up as convenient. RK. Clerk to arrange a site meeting with Cllrs RF and CB in order to gain greater understanding of the problems. RK/RF/CB
19/56 Clerk’s Report
56.1 Follow up from canal complaints
Clerk had passed the matter on to the police, from whom no reply had been received. Further follow-up to the original complainant had brought the response that the litter had been removed and the boat and occupants had gone. Matter closed.
66.1 Canal complaints
Clerk has collated all recent photographs and complaints about the parking alongside the canal in Wilcot and will contact Richard Dobson and Malcolm Beaven of Highways to discuss how to proceed with this matter. Cllr Oatway has inspected the site recently and RK is supportive of action being taken.
66.4 White lining at Wilcot canal bridge
The white lining should be taking place once the road surface works are confirmed as complete; these should have taken place last week.
81.4 White lining at Wilcot canal bridge. Clerk to follow up the lack of resurfacing and consequently of the white lining.
08.1 Canal complaints and verge solutions. Clerk and Cllr RN to meet Richard Dobson on Tuesday 28th January by Wilcot bridge to discuss installation of reflector bollards.
Further meetings of the Wilcot and Huish (with Oare) Parish Council in 2020:
Tuesday 10th March 2020 (in Oare village hall)
Tuesday 21st April 2020 – Annual Parish (Electors) Meeting (in Wilcot village hall)
Tuesday 12th May 2020 – Annual Parish Council Meeting (in Oare village hall)