Ian Shacklock and Del Brenner
Published: 7 September, 2012
by PETER GRUNER
CANAL campaigners in Islington warned of a new battle of the towpath this week over a plan to replace traditional visitor moorings with permanent luxury floating homes.
The idea comes from the Canal and River Trust (formerly British Waterways) in an attempt to reduce anti-social behaviour along parts of the waterway close to Noel Road, at the Angel.
Residents whose gardens back onto the towpath complain of smoke from boat engines pouring into their gardens and noisy generators disturbing the peace often at night.
The claim is that many of the visiting boats are “itinerant” travellers moving from one temporary moorings to another and often overstaying their permit and causing overcrowding. Up to eight narrow boats are allowed to moor off Noel Road for between seven and 14 days.
On Wednesday, a meeting of the Friends of Regent’s Canal heard from the officials with the trust who are investigating the problem. They are considering turning the visitor moorings into a permanent mooring feature for private narrow boats.
Ian Shacklock, chairman of the Friends, said that the issue had divided members. He added: “The idea of permanent moorings did not appeal to everyone at the meeting. And not everyone is convinced that visiting canal boats cause trouble for local residents.
“But the alternative of providing permanent spaces for posh boats along the canal is also not supported.
“Permanent moorings won’t solve the problem or the housing crisis. It will probably mean rich people buying narrow boats as second homes and hardly ever using them.”
Mr Shacklock believes the issue could become almost as contentious as the cycling versus walkers row.
“Instead of walkers being worried by cyclists people are being affected in their own homes. There are obviously some difficult problems in Noel Road. But we need a much wider debate if we are to come up with a proper solution. I’m sure banning visitor rights is not the way forward.”
Del Brenner, of Regent’s Network group, said the problem of anti-social behaviour could easily be solved by an officer from the trust policing the area. “Boat users need to be reminded what they can and can’t do,” he said. “If someone is pumping smoke through a chimney or blasting a generator at night then it needs to be stopped.
“What we don’t want to do is lose our precious visitor moorings. There are not enough of them in the capital already as it is. It’s not just itinerant travellers who use temporary visitor moorings. Holidaymakers and visitors to the London canals use them.”
A Trust spokesman had not returned our calls at the time of going to press.