Kennet and Avon Users Meeting 19th November Devizes

A reminder of the meeting next week – you do want to be there don’t you? Email if you want a lift or can offer a lift.

Questions that require a written answer should be submitted in advance of the meeting to the new Kennet and Avon manager Mark Stephens, and it would be advisable to get them in sharpish.

We have had word of a few of the questions to be asked, these are listed here;

“Please can the representative’s of British Waterways provide a point by point explanation of the issues they are trying to address at the western end of The K & A with their new mooring policy as detailed in the current national consultation.”

A question concerning the recent exchange between a liveaboard boater and Martin Skinner reported here
Read the question

How many boats have been identified between Semington and Bath as fitting BW’s profile of boats without home moorings that make insufficient movement to satisfy the ‘continuous cruising guidelines’?

Given that one of the intentions of the new local moorings plan is to prevent those boats continuing to follow their current patterns of navigation, what outcome would British Waterways like to see for these boats and their liveaboard owners and what outcome has British Waterways predicted to be the outcome of these plans.

A meeting took place between the parish councils of Bathampton, Claverton and Monkton Combe together with a small number of canalside residents on 10th September 2009. The minutes of the meeting were sent to Sally Ash.

A quote from the meeting under the heading “Parish councils’ perspective on canal issues.“ of is appended below;

The popular western end of the the canal form Bath to Bradford-on-Avon has
suffered ‘ neglect, abuse and inappropriate development‘ , principally from a
minority of liveaboard’ boaters who by default, have come to believe that they have the right to:-
* freely dispose of human waste and every other manner of trash in whatever location they choose
* threaten anyone who chooses to call attention to the situation.

I would like to know what action British Waterways has taken regarding these allegations of serious criminal offences (highlighted in bold)?

Also I would like to know whether British Waterways has involved the Environment Agency and the Police in investigating these allegations.

I have heard that one of the problems highlighted by the residents of Bathampton is the number of camper vans and cars owned by boat owners long-term parked in the lane by the school.

I have also heard that British Waterway own, or have rights to, part of the large gravel car park behind the George pub.

Can you confirm whether BW does have an interest in this car park?

If yes then can BW encourage boaters to use this car park instead of the lane?

If no then can British Waterways, as part of their initiatives with Bathampton Parish Council make enquiries and proposals such that this car park could be used in this way?

I believe that this would go a long way to address all but the most scurrilous of complaints made by Bathampton residents.

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4 Responses to “Kennet and Avon Users Meeting 19th November Devizes”

  1. Tschawo MonsterID Icon Tschawo says:

    I suspect that 5 years of nuclear decommissioning may have scrambled Mr Damian Kemps mind, or perhaps he’s started to believe all that purpose, planning and execution guff his marketing company Purplex espouse.

  2. Craig Marshall MonsterID Icon Craig Marshall says:

    It is interesting that Bathampton PC seems to make a number of accusations but would seem not to have provided any evidence what-so-ever. The most interesting comment is the reference to the disposal of human waste by liveaboard boaters.

    Should someone make a freedom of information act request to obtain the information used to make these allegations from Bathampton PC or will they be providing this in due course.Presumably to raise such serious matters this in this manner means these issues will be recorded in the minutes of the current and previous parish meetings, so we will know the following?:

    How Bathampton PC is able to make the definite distinction between canal users as a whole and liveaboard boaters. It would therefore seem clear the PC is in clear possession of evidence of which persons are depositing human waste and the boats on which they live. As the matter of the incorrect disposal of human waste is a public health issue we can only assume that the matter has been passed as a matter of urgency to the local authority for proper and safe removal and disposal of the human waste. Should someone check to see if these issues have been raised with the local authority (BANES).

    I suspect all boaters would join in condemning the improper disposal of human waste. We all need to tackle this vile behaviour.

    I find the comments about the disposal of general waste interesting for the following reasons:
    The waste disposal area at Tynings Lane, near the bridge and school at Bathampton would appear to be extremely well patronised as it is nealy always full with rubbish, if this is the case who is depositing general waste there? As the facility is for the use of users of the canal not local residence (there is a sign to this effect displayed) , one can only assume boaters of all descriptions are correctly disposing of general waste. A point of note here is I have personally observed persons who would not appear to be boaters make use of the facilities for the disposal of domestic / household waste. In future I would suggest that a note be made of number plates for possible enforcement action by BW against persons who are not entitled or paying to make use of the facilities.

    Would it be useful to engage Bathampton residents and boaters in attending a towpath tidy, as this would hopefully demonstrate unity by both communities on environmental issues / litter.

    I know that the vast majority of boaters who could be classed a liveaboard take a stake in the local facilities such as shops, postoffices, pubs, chandlers, garages etc close to canals, why would they travel miles away to use these things. Would it be of use to try to quantify the financial benefit of the local boating community in the various parishes served by the canal, say via a questionaire to boaters?

    If litter is a problem I would contend the largest amount of litter is deposited by casual leisure walkers. Could BW prevent this antisocial group from making use of the towpath. Who is responsible for the clearance of litter and waste from the towpath and canal? It would now appear it is not me, so therefore should I desist from collecting litter and plastics from the canal and towpath areas and disposing of these items when I dispose of my domestic waste properly.

    I have witnessed the following behaviour from holidaying Hen & Stag parties:
    Urinating close to buildings and facilities
    Vomiting on the towpath.
    Indecent exposure.
    Offensive and threatening language and behaviour.
    Disposal of sanitary towels (used) into the canal.
    The leaving of litter (admittedly in bags) at their overnight mooring site (on numerous occassions, this is not a one off).

    How will these issue be addressed?

    I would also urge people to engage in the democratic process. Under the Representation of the People Act 2000 if you have no fixed address you may make a declaration of local connection, providing you meet the criteria to do so. This will entitle you to vote in European, National, Local and PARISH elections.

    The comments in response 2 are interesting and we have the phrase ‘interpretation’. It is worth pointing out that the interpretation of many others is different, and some of the actions that BW under take may not be considered by some as in compliance with the their statutory powers, it may be worth seeking protection from harrassment by BW where their action is not within their legal powers. The ‘Protection from Harassment Act 1997’ which defines the purposde of the act as “An Act to make provision for protecting persons from harassment and similar conduct.” and goes on to state:
    England and Wales

    1 Prohibition of harassment (1) A person must not pursue a course of
    (a) which amounts to harassment of another, and
    (b) which he knows or ought to know amounts to harassment of the
    (2) For the purposes of this section, the person whose course of
    conduct is in question ought to know that it amounts to harassment of
    another if a reasonable person in possession of the same information
    would think the course of conduct amounted to harassment of the other.

    (3) Subsection (1) does not apply to a course of conduct if the person
    who pursued it shows?
    (a) that it was pursued for the purpose of preventing or detecting
    (b) that it was pursued under any enactment or rule of law or to
    comply with any condition or requirement imposed by any person under
    any enactment, or
    (c) that in the particular circumstances the pursuit of the course of
    conduct was reasonable.
    2 Offence of harassment (1) A person who pursues a course of conduct
    in breach of section 1 is guilty of an offence.
    (2) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on
    summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six
    months, or a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale, or
    (3) In section 24(2) of the [1984 c. 60.] Police and Criminal Evidence
    Act 1984 (arrestable offences), after paragraph (m) there is inserted?

    ?(n) an offence under section 2 of the Protection from Harassment Act
    1997 (harassment).?.

    It is up to BW to show their action did not constitute harassment. This applies the reasonable person test.

    The act makes harassment a criminal offence not civil.

  3. admin MonsterID Icon admin says:

    A wonderful set of non-answers.

    Several people have spent a lot of time and effort to try and get honest answers to real and live issues that affect us all yet an officer of British Waterways, paid by us, manages to write so dismissively of these concerns.

    The only answer that directly addresses the question put is number 3. Even then it is an evasive and partial answer, totally ignoring the important part of the question. There are definite grounds for complaint here unless these questions are answered in full at the meeting tomorrow.

  4. Hi,

    As project officer for the recently launched consultation on proposals for developing a local mooring strategy I thought it may be useful if I answered some of the above as early as possible.

    1. We have explained in general terms in our public consultation paper on mooring policies why we believe local, stakeholder-led mooring strategies would be helpful in managing scarce mooring space along waterways generally. The specific issues for the Kennet & Avon will emerge early in 2010 once a strategy steering group has been established and has completed the first phase of its work.

    2. Jackie Lewis (Barrister), the Head of our in-house legal team responded in writing to NABO on 10th October, (1) explaining why we disagree with NABO; (2) explaining BW’s duty to interpret the Act where its meaning could be subject to doubt and (3) inviting NABO – and its legal advisers if they wish – to meet with BW to try and resolve differences of view. Our enforcement team will continue to carry out their duties in line with our interpretation.

    3. We are currently working on a caseload of 69 non compliant continuous cruisers. We are aware of more in the area, but they have not yet entered into our formal process for enforcement.
    “To prevent boats continuing to follow their current patterns of navigation” is not one of the aims set out in the moorings policy consultation. The consultation document sets out our proposals and we have nothing further to add on this point at this stage. It will be the job of the local mooring strategy group to develop the thinking.

    4. These were allegations made by parish council representatives. They did not provide any evidence so there is no basis for a BW investigation. If we discover evidence of anti social behaviour on our property, we would of course investigate and take appropriate steps to stop it, where necessary seeking the support of the local police, the Environment Agency or other bodies as relevant. Identifying individuals responsible for anti social behaviour is of course usually very difficult. All boat licence holders have signed up to comply with licence terms and conditions which include refraining from acts such as those quoted by Bathampton PC, and we take this opportunity of reminding all boat owners of these conditions.

    5. BW has no ‘initiatives’ with Bathampton PC – we have simply responded positively to their requests to meet to discuss their concerns, as we would to any similar request from any other stakeholder representative.

    We wonder why the demand for long term car parking in the area appears to be larger than the number of long term mooring spaces. In any case, BW never guarantees to provide car parking for its long term mooring customers. However, this is an issue which the mooring strategy steering group could reasonably explore as part of its work.

    You may not be aware but the consultation relating to developing local mooring strategies went ‘live’ yesterday – As canal users your views matter and I hope you can find the time to respond and, in time, take an active part in developing the local mooring strategy.

    I look forward to seeing some of you at the User Group Meeting.

    Damian Kemp
    Project Officer
    British Waterways