Last week BaNES Council reversed the decision that it made in January and has re-opened the 14-day moorings at Mead Lane, Saltford on the River Avon, until a structural survey of the river bank is carried out and further consultation of interested parties has taken place. The U-turn followed a solicitor’s letter sent to the Council on behalf of boaters. This comes shortly after the BaNES Environmental Health department began taking steps in mid-May 2020 to evict liveaboards who had been moored at Mead Lane due to the suspension of boat movements for the Coronavirus lockdown.
Liveaboard boaters may now moor at Mead Lane for 14 days, and we have the right to do so without harassment from the settled community around Mead Lane. Boaters are advised not to engage with any residents of the houses and to report any harassment to the Police.
According to the Equality Act 2010, harassment is behaviour that is meant to, or has the effect of, either violating your dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. The residents, anglers and others should never be making us feel unwelcome or documenting our behaviour. They have been informed that this is unlawful.
Harassment includes verbal abuse, telling you not to moor your boat (including written notices), photographing boats, taking boat details, documentation of boat movements or boaters’ behaviour, putting rubbish bags outside your boat, and any behaviour that makes you feel unwelcome, threatened, humiliated or afraid, including false reports of anti-social behaviour or littering.
If you experience any of these behaviours, please report this to the Police on 101, or call 999 if a crime is in progress. See also https://www.report-it.org.uk/your_police_force
If you need support due to the behaviour of local residents while you are moored at Mead Lane, or help in reporting harassment/ hate crime, you can contact the Julian House Travelling Communities Support Service. Contact Alice on 07960 097719 or Emily on 07946 200271.
Obviously there are laws against littering and anti-social behaviour, but the normal everyday life of liveaboard boaters including such things as sitting in chairs on the towpath or temporarily placing items from the boat on the ground is neither littering nor anti-social, is not prohibited, and should not be reported to the Police or any other authorities. Strictly speaking, boaters do not need BaNES Council’s permission to moor on the river bank. There is a Public Right of Navigation on all navigable rivers that has existed since Time Immemorial, and this right includes the right to anchor, moor or remain stationary for a reasonable time in the course of navigation.
Parking vehicles at Mead Lane may still be temporarily suspended by the Police, who placed No Parking cones along the road following large numbers of visitors to the river bank who were not socially distancing. See this article in the Bristol Post. Many liveaboards have pointed out that if boats had been moored at Mead Lane at the time, this would not have happened.
Despite verbal and written submissions to the Council meeting from liveaboard boaters, BaNES Council cabinet voted on on 16th January 2020 to close Mead Lane moorings on the River Avon and to carry out a structural survey of the river bank. Bank stabilisation works were carried out by the Council in 2005 to protect a sewage pipe. Councillors present at the cabinet meeting on 16th January stated that they were concerned that the mooring of boats had damaged the stabilised bank. However this followed a lengthy campaign against boaters mooring on the river bank by local residents, Councillors, the Parish Council and Saltford Environment Group.