Published: 23 August, 2013
by PETER GRUNER
WATERWAY authorities are investigating a shocking report of a gang of young people attacking swans with a barge pole on the Regent’s Canal at the Angel.
St Peter’s ward councillor Martin Klute, who receives almost daily complaints about bad behaviour on the canal, has provided the Tribune with an email from a resident detailing the incident.
The resident, who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals, wrote: “This evening the behaviour of the gang of kids reached new lows with them attacking adult swans and their young with a barge pole.
“This was distressing to watch and resulted in adult swans being hit with the barge pole while trying to protect their young.”
It is understood that the swans managed to escape but Cllr Klute believes the attack is just another example of criminal and anti-social behaviour which has plagued the canal between Noel Road and City lock.
He is asking Islington Council to take legal action against the Canal and River Trust, responsible for the waterway, over what he claims is a lack of policing.
Cllr Klute said: “The attack on the swans is just the latest incident. We are getting high levels of anti-social behaviour day and night. The trust don’t seem to be able to enforce any of the regulations.
“We keep hearing from the trust that legislation doesn’t allow them to do anything or they do not have the staff.”
Ian Shacklock, chair of the Friends of Regent’s Canal, said the trust had dispensed with paid staff and recruited volunteers. “Volunteers are fine for painting bridges or picking up rubbish but who wants to volunteer to be a punch bag?” he said. “The answer is that we need more Safer Neighbourhoods police on the towpath. But they have been cut also.”
A spokeswoman for the trust said anti-social behaviour was a continual problem on the towpath. “We are working with police and the council,” she said. “But the canal has become a popular venue for young people, particularly in the summer. We can encourage young people to move on but we don’t have policing powers.”