BaNES Council votes to close and relocate Mead Lane moorings by 2022

On 8th October, BaNES Council Cabinet voted unanimously to close the moorings at Mead Lane, Saltford, by November 2022 and relocate the 14-day mooring space. It is not clear what will happen if the Council is unable to find suitable land to relocate the moorings.

The Council’s decision includes closing the small stretch of 48-hour moorings at Mead Lane immediately, and making the 14-day moorings summer only until 2022, closing them between November and the end of February. BaNES also agreed to work with CRT to jointly fund a river warden to carry out enforcement, and to work with the police to review vehicle parking restrictions in Mead Lane. The Council also proposed charging boaters for mooring at Mead Lane from 1st March 2021 supposedly in order to raise funds for new moorings in other places.

This decision comes after a long campaign of political lobbying and harassment of boaters by some of the wealthy residents of Mead Lane, Saltford Parish Council, Saltford Environment Group and local councillors. BaNES Council accepted that in making the decision, it had failed to meet with any boaters to discuss their side of the issue, although there had been substantial contact with the residents of Mead Lane, their representatives, and the wider Saltford community.

After being made aware of this oversight, BaNES has agreed to meet with boaters and investigate not only Mead Lane but provision of alternative future moorings on the River Avon.

Five liveaboard boaters plus the leader of Bradford on Avon Town Council Dom Newton addressed the Council meeting, making strong and eloquent arguments for the continuation of mooring at Mead Lane.

One liveaboard boater threatened legal action if BaNES went ahead with plans to close the moorings without considering the impact on boaters. A solicitor’s letter had already halted the Council’s earlier plan to close the moorings following the Council meeting in January 2020, although BaNES was able to present this in the guise of the moratorium on evictions due to the Covid-19 lockdown and extend it on the grounds of the hardship caused by the failure of the EA’s sluice gate at Twerton in September.

The Council reached its decision on 8th October despite a consultation report by consultants Lemon Gazelle in 2019 recommending that the moorings remained open; despite a survey by consulting engineers Atkins in September 2020 finding “no indication that mooring is adversely affecting bank stability”; and despite the duty of local authorities under Section 124 of the Housing and Planning Act 2016 to assess the accommodation needs of boat dwellers within their boundaries.

You can watch the Council meeting here, the contributions from boaters and Mead Lane residents starts at 30 minutes.

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