Bathampton, the plot thickens.

Well, boaties and other interested parties, we have another pile of stuff to sift through and publish, a series of email exchanges between Keith Rossiter of Bathampton Parish Council and Sally Ash of British Waterways.

Mr Rossiter really does have some thistles in delicate places as his frothing at the mouth rantings include such gems as;

[liveaboard boaters] freely dispose of human waste and every other manner of trash in whatever location they choose

I have put the whole exchange here;
Correspondence between Sally Ash and Keith Rossiter

and the minutes of another meeting, this time on 10th September, follow up to the meetings and plans in our earlier report on thr Outer Zone.

It’s a bit of a mess this document so for your edification and amusement here’s a choice snippet or two from Keith, our guardian of propriety;

“Mooring situation is OK apart from Bathampton Bridge to Swing Bridge where it is a real mess of hardcore offenders

outbreak of chickens being kept by canal boats, Latest offender has set-up camp just west of Candy’s bridge – but there are several spots along the canal where this is now taking place. They keep them under nets pinned on to the towpath grass verge”

“reported vagrants using a disused brick building adjacent to Folly Foot Bridge”

“observed Saturday evening – 1700 approx. – family/ies with picnic tables, drink & fire (?) + scrambling bike using the field as a race track”

“I think it is important we stay focussed on the immediate problems of Claverton and Bathampton…. …At our last meeting, we gave a few words of encouragement to your enforcement team… …When we look at the mooring situation between the Swing Bridge and Candy’s Bridge, too many of the hard-core offenders are creeping back in. We really do need to get control of the situation properly and as you know the local representatives are eager to play their part

My italics

I really like that ‘family with picnic tables’ Keith, can’t have that in old blighty, what, families with picnic tables, whatever next? Maybe vagrants in a disused building – love the language Keith, I haven’t heard the term vagrant in many a year, doesn’t it have a precise definition, did you check whether they had 12 pence in their pockets or offer them a train ticket?  an “outbreak of chickens” – priceless, is that like measles?

And on the other side, we finally have an out-in-the-open, tellit how she sees it polemic from Sally Ash, glamorous sidekick of Simon ‘Satan’ Salem.

Sally Ash to Keith Rossiter

“The short term [element]* is to address the Parish Council’s immediate concerns on overstaying. On this we appear to be making good progress” *in the Outer Zone plans

“Living afloat is being perceived as an attractive and economical choice by increasing numbers of people, particularly on the edge of our towns and cities. Bath is no exception and we have been concerned for some time at the number of boats that have simply ‘put down roots’ without our permission along the towpath between Bath and Bradford-on-Avon.

My colleagues in our regional offices in Gloucester responsible for this length have been trying within their available resources to take effective enforcement action against these boats.”

And finally, unable to control himself, our Keith really goes to town in the minutes of the meeting;

minutes of the meeting between British Waterways and Bathampton, Claverton and Ian Dewey

Extract from the minutes written up  by Keith Rossiter

“Parish councils’ perspective on canal issues.

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:-

  • ‘liveaboard’ without a residential license, planning permission or the payment of local council tax
  • moor long-term in one location or ‘bridge hop’ in an attempt to masquerade as continuous cruisers.
  • treat the towpath and adjacent land as their own back garden, workshop or farmyard.
  • 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.

There is particular concern about the the untidy and ever expanding development on the western bank of the canal near Claverton – Watership Farm (“Digger Smith’s“ property)

Now come along Keith, there’s some pretty strong accusations in there.

freely dispose of human waste” is a fairly heinous crime in anyone’s book and a criminal offence of great interest to the Environment Agency. Strange – you are prepared to make this kind of statement in a cosy coterie of your buddies – why haven’t you taken this to the Environment Agency, who have very strong powers to act? Is is perhaps because this accusation is unfounded? “

Threaten anyone who choose to call attention to the situation” – Last time I heard, threatening behaviour was a criminal offence, why have you made no complaint to the police about this?

Again because it is an unfounded slur, slung out in the hope of painting a picture that might be believable to a couple of officers from British Waterways fresh from the corporate towers of Watford but bearing little reality to the real world.

Now we know a little of how Keith feels – in public mind, in the face of warnings from Sally Ash that “The information contained in this email may be subject to public disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act 2000”

So how does he respond to a concerned letter from a former member of the Bathampton Parish Council?

Quote from the letter;

I was asking xxxxxxx recently about issues which I believe have arisen
with canal dwellers, the local community and the BWB and she said that
you may be the person to communicate with. I have no direct knowledge
of the issues but over the years, I have come to know some of the
canal dwellers well, particularly in connection with issues such as
the resurrection of the Link Road a few years ago where they have been
very supportive.

The reason for my contacting you is to suggest that in finding a way
forward in resolving these issues, it may be helpful to have an avenue
open for a dialogue with responsible members amongst the canal

Keith’s response;

Regarding canal issues, I am not sure that I am the person to
give you a full picture, as really this is very much a matter between
British Waterways and the boat owners
, but I can give you information which
may help yourself and Peter.   I guess there are two issues – one of mooring
zones and the other of parking – and I have separated these in my reply.


Bathampton Parish Council is aware that British Waterways is about to
publish a national consultation document on future mooring policy. We
understand that all interested parties, including boat owners, will have the
opportunity to comment on any proposed changes. Until we see the document,
we are not clear how this proposed new policy will affect canal moorings in
Bathampton Parish, but we do support British Waterways in their efforts to
bring clarity to mooring policy.

We know that many boaters have long-standing ties with Bathampton and can
understand their concern
. The Parish Council has no control over British
Waterways licence conditions, but if changes are being proposed by British
Waterways, we will do our best to ensure that there is adequate

If there are to be changes in mooring policy, licence conditions or stricter
enforcement, we will urge British Waterways to consider individual cases and
allow an adequate period of transition before the new policy is fully

We expect the proposed national mooring policy to be published in November.
Once boat owners have had an opportunity to study this document, they should
make their views known to British Waterways and if they think it would be
useful, copy the Parish Council so that we can be aware of specific

Again my italics

Now this man could go far, with dissembling skills of this magnitude there must be a place for him in more rarified political halls than Bathampton Parish Council.

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One Response to “Bathampton, the plot thickens.”

  1. […] Two months after that meeting, in August 2009, Sally Ash said in an email to a Bathampton Parish Councillor that she saw short and long term solutions for “moorings in your area” and that “the long term one is the development of the strategy which we see as critical to underpinning our future management of the canal” and that “we are working on terms of reference, securing the resources and establishing a project structure” (see our previous article “Bathampton, the plot thickens” ). […]