Cllr Martin Klute: 'Some residents go away for the weekend because the nuisance is so bad'
Published: 18 October, 2013
by ANDREW JOHNSON
A CHARITY responsible for looking after the Regent’s Canal has been condemned for being too soft on speeding cyclists and allowing loud music and drinking to take place on the towpath until the early hours of the morning.
The Canal and River Trust was also criticised at last Thursday’s full council meeting at the Town Hall for failing to crack down on anti-social behaviour from a “minority” of boaters who run their engines late into the night.
A motion was passed calling for “legal and moral pressure” to be brought on the Trust to force it to keep the towpath clean, empty bins, and to “enforce higher environmental standards on the owners of the canal boats to reduce noise and air pollution” and to persuade them to use smokeless fuel, as smoke from coal and wood was polluting the area.
The canal runs through Islington from King’s Cross to Kingsland, disappearing under a tunnel through Angel.
Martin Klute, the Labour councillor for St Peter’s ward which covers the area where the canal emerges from the tunnel at City Road Basin, handed in a 116-name petition from residents who live along the towpath calling for action.
“Some residents go away for the weekend because the nuisance is so bad,” he said. “Why can’t the Canal and River Trust introduce licences which can be taken off boat owners who break the rules.”
He added that a café on the towpath was staying open far later than its licence allowed.
“The Canal and River Trust is running away from enforcement,” he claimed. “The Clean Air Act doesn’t apply to the waterways. We are lobbying to have the law changed.”
Lib Dem councillor George Allan, who is chairman of the Lea Valley Regional Park Authority, also supported the motion. He said the same problems had occurred on the river Lea, but that many boat owners had been forced to move to the Regent’s Canal during the Olympics last summer.
“The problems may have been made worse by the displacement of boat dwellers,” he said.
The motion, which also called on the Trust to “take full responsibility for the behaviour and actions of people using the canal and the towpath” was passed unanimously.
But the Canal and River Trust hit back, saying it was tackling the problems and hinting that the Town Hall could also do more.
A spokeswoman said: “The canal at Islington is very popular.
“We want it to be a place that everyone can enjoy and are in regular contact with local residents, volunteer groups and boaters, as well as Islington Council, to address the issues raised by Councillor Klute.
“We have produced a management plan, in consultation with Islington Council, that will address these concerns.
"For example, we now empty all the bins in the area twice a day, seven days a week and are suggesting that the council also do more so that people can bin their litter before visiting the canal.
“The Trust continues to support ideas suggested by the council and will try to make them happen by working together to improve the area: as a charity, we have limited resources and cannot do it alone.”