The Kennet & Avon Canal is no stranger to allegations of unacceptable behaviour by boat users, particularly aimed at people living on their boats in the Bath and Bradford on Avon area, and scurrilous stories have, save for a very few incidents, proved to be completely untrue.
When the issue of boats and moorings at Honeystreet appeared on the agenda for Alton Parish Council earlier this year rumours quickly spread anticipating a 'boater-bashing' repeat of campaigns waged against boats and boaters at the eastern end of the canal — and the fear that there could be an an attempt to try to stop boats mooring in the parish.
The Parish Council responded quickly to quash the rumours and Parish Clerk, Charles Reiss, issued a statement distancing the parish council from the prejudiced rhetoric of some of the critics of boaters on the K&A Canal. And he invited everyone interested to come the Alton Parish Council meeting in the Coronation Hall in Alton Barnes to give their views and discuss the issues.
|Parish clerk, Charles Reiss, front, left, talks to K&A Canal Waterways Manager, Mark Stephens during the fact-finding walk at Honeystreet. Picture by Bob Naylor: WaterMarx©|
The afternoon before the meeting members of the parish council had walked the canal in the parish with Waterways Manager, Mark Stephens, Damian Kemp of the BW moorings team and Richard Birchall of the Residential Boat Owners Association and they were able to explain to Mark the problems they felt existed.
The Parish Council Chairman said that litter and boats overstaying on the moorings are also problems. He said that the village welcomes boaters, but that these problems need to be dealt with.
A boater explained that most boaters routinely clear up after themselves and others, but she felt that it would be worthwhile to organise towpath tidies in the area —a suggestion that found favour with everyone at the meeting. Mark Stephens said that BW would remove large items of litter such as discarded ballast
The meeting agreed that signs designating the canal through the village as a quiet zone, along with encouragement of quieter behaviour from campsite users and boaters would help to solve the problem.
Another problem that Mark Stephens identified was that because of the extremely poor condition of much of the towpath on the Long Pound in the winter boaters tended to moor in places like Honeystreet where it is less muddy and he promised to look for ways to improve the towpath.