Following a Freedom of Information request we have obtained the deployment plan written by BW giving details of how the Canal Monitoring and Enforcement Officer post proposed to BANES by Councillor Ian Dewey of Bathampton would work. Written in March, this document shows that BANES was planning to patrol the canal 5 days a week between Bathampton and Bradford on Avon, and assumed it would gain Wiltshire’s support for patrolling the area within its boundary. However, Ken Oliver, Wiltshire Council’s Canal Officer stated at a meeting of the local mooring strategy steering group on 26 August that Wiltshire was not prepared to participate in this scheme.
As far as we know, this staff member was never appointed and since the late summer there has been a recruitment freeze and the Council is not currently taking on any staff.
The document states that the proposal arose in part from discussion with representatives of BANES Council “whose constituents have expressed unhappiness about the establishment of a residential boating community along the canal within the district”. It also justifies the plan by saying that boaters have challenged BW and BANES to make use of existing enforcement powers to deal with any problems. It is true that boaters have challenged BW’s new policies and the local mooring strategy by saying that any problems can be solved by enforcing the 14-day rule fairly and consistently, rather than attempting to enforce guidance and policy that is beyond what the law requires of boaters without moorings. However it is not true that boaters have challenged BANES to carry out enforcement on the canal – because this is the statutory duty of BW to carry out, and we do not believe it would be lawful for BANES or any other local authority to do this, nor would it be a good use of local authority money.
BW’s plan for these patrols proposed, among other things, measuring success by the amount of “tourist spend in local villages by boaters” and soliciting local curtain twitching residents to submit visitor incident reports of nuisance “clearly attributable to residential boaters” to BW. We cannot understand how this would be monitored other than by using identity checking procedures unheard of in a civilised society. Can you imagine asking every drinker in the George or the Cross Guns whether they were a tourist boater or a liveaboard undesirable? How about getting every liveaboard boater to wear a yellow armband – hold on, they tried that sort of thing in Germany in the 1930s…
You can read the deployment plan here: