The real picture about the ‘problems’ on the Western Kennet and Avon is beginning to emerge. Way back when we made a Freedom of Information Act request about the numbers and type of complaints in the Bathampton, Claverton and Dundas areas.
We received this document showing 63 complaints over a period January 2008 to August 2009, mostly about overstaying boats but with a few other issues.
We had a suspicion from reading this document that the complaints came from a few serial complainants, followers of this website will even be able to hazard a guess at the names of the major complainants.
We made a further Freedom of Information Act request to get the text of the complaints, so far BW has refused to release this information claiming it will identify the complainants, contrary to the Data Protection Act, even though we specifically asked them to remove any personal details. This refusal is the subject of a complaint, BW’s refusal to answer this complaint will be the subject of a complaint to the Waterways Ombudsman.
One of our contributors made another request, this time asking “please can you supply me with the number of complainants this data represents, and the number of complaints each person/organisation has complained. I do not require to know the area of canal, nature of the complaint or whether the complainant was an organisation or individual.”
We have just, 4 months later, received a reply;
The number complaints each complainer has made in the Bath to Bradford upon Avon section of the Kennet and Avon Canal
|Complainer||Number of Complaints|
So, as you can see there have only been 11 people complaining about the behaviour of boats in the 18 months January 2008 to August 2009. Hardly a serious problem that requires draconian solutions and thousands upon thousands of pounds spent on these spurious consultations, proposals and ‘solutions’.
Further analysis shows that 3 people have been responsible for over 50 complaints. So our suspicions are shown to be correct, our number one suspect, Keith Rossiter is almost certainly the winner with 30 complaints. If Mr Rossiter would like to comment on this allegation we would be happy to publish a statement from him.
I could go on; I could say that this level of complaint for this many boats over this period of time indicates that really there is no problem, that 40 of those complaints were about overstaying boats – something between BW and the individual boater and certainly not the concern of Mr Rossiter, the complaint about boater’s children in the local school, the complaints about use of BW land and Warleigh Weir – nothing to do with boaters, what exactly “all of the above basically” means? – complaints about camper vans, stolen property – what does this mean?, the complaint about the café, anti-social behavious from a hire boat.
The remainder seem in the main to refer to the use of generators and engines late at night. Something most boaters also object to and a criminal offence in breach of BW Byelaws. We invite the enforcement team to respond to the good citizens’ complaints on this matter and patrol the towpath at night to stamp down on this outrageous behaviour.
So when Sally Ash stood up in front of the Devizes User Group Meeting and said there were serious problems in the Limpley Stoke Valley that needed immediate solution we can now clearly see what little fuel she had to stoke the fire of her crusade. And really what she was highlighting was the failure of BW’s enforcement team to enforce the 14 day rule or the use of generators after 8pm.