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Councillor says ‘huge increase in dirty and noisy canal boats' close to homes could force residents to move away

Councillor Martin Klute at City Road Basin

Councillor Martin Klute at City Road Basin in Angel

Boats moored along the towpath

Boats boats moored along the towpath

Published: 11 January, 2013

A NEW towpath battle has erupted after residents in Angel declared they have “had enough” of acrid smoke from boat engines pouring into their canal-side homes and noisy generators disturbing the peace.

The residents in Noel Road – which was also home to late writers Joe Orton and Nina Bawden, who died last year – all have attractive south-facing gardens leading on to the Regent’s Canal.

Normally, six or seven narrow-boats are allowed temporary moorings opposite their properties, close to Danbury Bridge and City Road Basin, for up to 14 days.

But currently up to 20 boats – often double or even treble moored– are being tied up.

St Peter’s ward Labour councillor Martin Klute is appealing to the Canal and River Trust (formerly British Waterways) to take action where canal by-laws are regularly being broken.

“This isn’t a case of snobby residents complaining about narrow boats,” he said. “The residents have always enjoyed the canal and welcomed the boats.

“But over the last two years there’s been a huge increase in vessels using the site.

“Not only are double or treble the number of boats tying up at the temporary moorings, which is against the canal by-laws, but many of these boat owners are running noisy generators which shake and rattle windows and disturb residents at all times of the day or night.

“Many residents who have lived here peacefully for years are so fed up with the noise that they are thinking of moving out.

“And it is not just noise. Many of the boat owners are using cheaper, dirty fuel – instead of the smokeless variety – which is against the council’s own anti-pollution by-laws. The black acrid smoke pervades gardens and homes. It’s very unpleasant.”

One possible solution to the problem has been a suggestion by the Canal Trust to make the moorings a private and residential boating enclave.

However, Ian Shacklock, chairman of the Friends of the Regent’s Canal, said: “Permanent moorings won’t solve the problem. It will probably mean rich people buying narrow-boats as second homes and hardly ever using them.”

Del Brenner, of the 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 added. “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 as it is. It’s not just travellers who use temporary visitor moorings. Holidaymakers and visitors to the London canals use them.”

A spokesman for the Canal and River Trust said they had officials down at the site on most days and anyone overstaying their mooring permit would be fined £25 a day.

“We are a charity and, as such, we do not have infinite resources but we do urge boat users and residents to work together,” the spokesman added. “There are signs that forbid the use of smoky fuels and remind boat users not to run their engines between 8pm and 8am.

“We will keep an eye on the situation and take appropriate action if necessary.”





if someone living in a house by the canal is annoying us, can we ask them to leave? Just wondering......

Fed Up Canal Resident

I live on Regent's Canal and normally love it here and also love the boats passing by and have no problem with some mooring up for a while IF they do not cause any nuisance to the other residents. I am talking of boats which overstay their two week limit and run their engine so loud that you have to leave your home in order not to freak out. We have one boat here which is causing a constant headache to everyone living here. The boat also constantly overstays the limit of 14days. I also made many complaints to the Canal and River Trust but they are doing nothing, which brings up the question why they are in charge anyway if they can't do anything. Would be the same if the Police couldn't arrest anybody but only make a note of their crimes. The next step will be to go to the ombudsman directly and also start complaining about the people who work for the trust. If I have to move because of the boats I certainly will try and sue them to pay for any costs that arise for moving. To be clear it is not every boat, just a few that refuse to follow the canal rules and it is these boats that should be banned from the canals.

Weak journalism

I'm heartened by the comments to this article and hope the 'journalist' responsible for this excuse for an article takes note of his readership. I wonder if he's got a house on the canal too.

Housing in London will always be an issue and whilst squatting is illegal, developers destroy communities and provide overpriced boxes for people to live in, some of us look for other ways.

People have always lived and worked on the waterways - and although neglected for a long time they're very much coming back in to vogue, with developers carving up canal side property throughout the city.

Boat living isn't easy - but it's great - unlike this article

Boaters ARE Residents

I am an Islington resident and work in East London.

I regularly visit friends on boats on this stretch of the canal in the evening. Boaters rarely turn their engines on after 8pm because of the noise. Part of the reason that boaters double and triple moor is because in the past few months there have been a lot of break-ins to boats. On two occasions, ten boats have been broken into in one go, so then boaters double and triple moor for safety and security. As far as I know, neither the police nor the Canal and Rivers Trust does much in the way of evening or night patrols, or maintaining and developing lighting, entrances, foliage etc to make towpaths safer in the dark, which would perhaps be a better use of their resources than cycling around fining boaters if they don't move bang on time. I moved a boat through locks between Mile End and Angel a month ago and it was extremely hard to open and close ANY of the locks as they are so poorly maintained by the Canal and Rivers Trust (bits of one lock had fallen completely off and were jammed in the base of the gate due to obvious years of neglect). No wonder boaters don't always move on the day they are meant to if takes 4 large adults just to open one broken lock gate. This is another area where the Canal and Rivers Trust would be better off putting their resources.

I am 33, single, earn on average a wage of less than 24k in the children's workforce and the lowest cost of any 'affordable housing' in London is currently £230,000 for a one bedroomed flat. Everyone needs to live somewhere, and people like me move onto boats partly for the community, and partly because they need somewhere affordable to live and greedy landlords are forcing tenants out of their homes with unreasonable rents. If these homeowners want complete peace and quiet why do they live in a built up, polluted area in central London?! This is about people with expensive properties thinking their money entitles them to whatever they want.

The local paper should be seeking the views of people that live on boats, and ideally be supporting all of their local residents, who live, work, socialise and spend in Islington and send their children to schools there. They could also seek the views of the people who for the first time since I was a child feel safe to use the towpath in the evenings, which used to be a no-go area. Boaters make the towpath safer, and more people use them in the evenings for cycling, walking and jogging than they used to because there is a human presence there. This article is biased, unhelpful and pathetic.


boaters blues

apart from the issues mentioned, of lack of access to health and other facilities, pushy arrogant cyclists, nimby prejudice and exploitative landlords, can i add that mooring in inslington makes your boat a target for youths who kick, untie and rob from your boat, sometimes breaking locks, doors or windows.

boaters stick together for protection as the police don't bother responding to emergency calls.

the canal and river trust "charity", by the way, added to the exploitation of boaters by asking £250 a week to moor in public moorings, which the purchase of a lisence gives you the right to use, during the olympics


As a narrow boat owner who occasionally enjoys staying at the Angel moorings I am saddened by this article which seems to me to be highly inflammatory and unfounded.

"But over the last two years there’s been a huge increase in vessels using the site."

"many of these boat owners are running noisy generators which shake and rattle windows and disturb residents at all times of the day and night "

"And it is not just noise. Many of the boat owners are using cheaper, dirty fuel – instead of the smokeless variety – which is against the council’s own anti-pollution by-laws. The black acrid smoke pervades gardens and homes."

A little sensationalist? In the article there are no actual quotes from residents, no attempt to get facts regarding fuel used or counter comments from boat owners.

I would urge anyone to stroll down the canal in the evening where you would most likely find a peaceful collection of narrow boats with romantic wafts of wood smoke (and largely smokeless coal) eminating from their chimneys. Most of us (not all unfortunately) are very careful not to run our engine and generators late at night in built up areas.

I do hope if there is a real problem the local residents could engage with us so we can find a solution together - I for one would miss staying there. It is one of my favourite places to stop off for a week or two.

I personally think the boats bring colour and interest to the area. I've certainly lost count of the times I've seen families with exited young children walking along that stretch to see the boats there.


other side of the fence

I'm a boat owner. I don't complain about the thousands of cyclists racing to work every morning and every night along the tow path, (which was originally used to tow one's boat) nor do i complain about any smoke or noise coming from the boat next door - because we all have to live somewhere , heat our homes somehow and get to work in some way.

I would love there to be far less houses in London obstructing my views and restricting the waterways , but that is too selfish an opinion for me to voice without regret.


What a terrible peice of reporting! One-sided, unsubstantiated rubbish! Well I suppose that's all we can expect from 'news'papers these days. At least we can use it for firestarting LOL

Love the canal

I live in Angel and I for one love the boats! This is an appalling article, entirely subjective, badly researched, and wholly one-sided! Shame on you Islington Tribune!

Smelly canal boats and Rich Nimbys

This is basically class-war nimbyism and about intolerance on the part of the rich for those less well off than themselves. One has to ask why on earth these residents chose to live next to a working canal in the first place. If one didn't like trains would one choose to live next to a railway? This is quite apart from the irony of living in London and complaining about fumes.

Over decades and, lately, more rapidly, the London canals have become a refuge for the young, the low paid and financially or socially excluded individuals attempting to make (or salvage) a life in a hard-edged over-hyped city in a political climate of cold corporatist austerity. This population suffers difficulties in accessing health care, claiming benefits (most are working incidentally) and prejudice and discrimination such as that experienced in Islington.

I live in the boat community and have found it rich in dynamic, friendly, selfless and intelligent people. Islington and other boroughs would do well to wake up to the fact that they have a floating constituency (I am registered to vote in Hackney). We are a community and our boats are homes, just like the rich houses in Islington. It's time London took account of this community, its needs, its valuable social contributions and its rights.

Frank Kelly (narrowboat Maid Marian reg 41730)

Canal boats

Many of the boats here are owned by greedy landlords taking advantage of Londoners' need for reasonably priced accommodation. Some landlords own three or four boats which they rent out continuously - and illegally. Canal and Rivers Trust need to police this by asking the occupiers of the offending boats if they are tenants or owners - owners who have let their boats illegally could have their licences reviled and their boats removed from the canal.
By failing to police the "not for hire" licences CRT are allowing greedy landlords to profit from the charity and profit from the resources of Islington Council. The landlords are letting out something - the beautiful waterway an the council's services - which is not theirs to let.

This is what happens when people don't vote

Out of a population of 13,000 this muppet got around 2000 votes

How does it feel to know that 15% of your ward voted for you and the other 85% thought you were a muppet?

Small wonder why the UK has gone to the dogs with self-important politicians like this

Shows all that's wrong with Labour, supporting people with posh houses backing on to a canal, rather than people who have moved onto the waterways because they can't afford to buy houses anymore

Canal boats

Who was there first homes or canal?

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