The return of rubbish bins to Devizes Wharf seems unlikely to happen in the near future — if ever — following a statement from the Canal and River Trust Contracts Manager Richard Harrison who claims that the bins were pushed into the canals ‘on occasions’ and that the ‘vast majority’ of the rubbish was from the general public and not from boating customers.
At a recent Canal Users’ Forum K&A Canal Waterways Manager Mark Stephens was asked about the removal of the bins from the wharf and he said that he hoped to re-instate rubbish collection on Devizes Wharf in cooperation with the local authority.
But in answer to an inquiry about progress on the return of the bins to the popular and busy canal stop-over Mr Harrison said: “There are no current plans to replace these bins. These were continually abused while they were on the wharf with the vast majority of the rubbish being from the general public and not boating customers. The containers were also pushed into the canal on occasion.
“We have rubbish facilities at both Caen Hill and Horton Bridge Inn which are a short travel distance in either direction.”
Boaters deny CRT claims
This claim of abuse of the bins has been robustly contradicted by canal users with a long association with the K&A Canal — and Devizes Wharf in particular.
Sandy Saddler, who moored his boat Kismet beside the slipway near the bins said: “I moored my boat there for 30 years or more and I do not know of a single instance of the bins being pushed into the canal or of the bins being used to any great extent by anyone other than by boaters.”
This was a view echoed by Bob Naylor who has kept his boat in the Devizes area for 25 years who added: “Abuse by Devizes residents is an easy excuse to make to justify removing the bins — but it just does not stand up to scrutiny. I was moored near the bins over a weekend and I photographed people bringing rubbish to the bins by car — and they all turned out to be boaters — except for one person, the owner of a local cafe, who was putting commercial waste in the bins. When I spoke to her about it saying they were exclusively for the use of boaters she claimed she believed they were there for general public use — but I never saw her use the bins again — and to be fair I don’t recall seeing a sign saying they were ‘boater’s’ bins.”
Previous removal — and return — of the bins by BW
On a previous occasion when the bins were removed by a member of BW staff Di Harris, then the editor of The Butty, contacted the BW press office and she got a statement from BW saying: “It is only 5 minutes down to the BW office on the Caen Hill flight — and there are bins there.”
Di said: “It may be five minutes in a car. It is down three locks in a boat or a round trip walk of more than 3km, possibly in the rain, carrying rubbish bags. And, even more worryingly, the BW member of staff was suggesting a course of action that meant boaters carrying all their rubbish through the café garden. I can’t imagine that would be very popular. It is just another example of BW staff exhibiting a total lack of understanding and respect whilst effectively stamping their feet and saying, ‘We are BW, we can do what we want and we have no interest in what you tell us because that would make our lives difficult.”
CRT continue BW lack of understanding
Di Harris continued: “Since the inception of the Canal and River Trust what might seem to be a lack of understanding and respect for the needs of leisure, live-aboard or hire-boat holiday makers have persisted. At the recent meeting in Devizes when the new CRT Chief Executive, Richard Parry, was on his ‘meet the canal users’ tour a member of the audience who raised the subject of rubbish disposal was challenged by CRT K&A Patrol Officer Corrine Rotherham who said: “I must just ask a question of you. As a resident, if I want to dispose of something like a washing machine I am expected to take it to a tip — if I want to dispose of batteries I must take them to the tip. Why should it be different for anyone else. That's my question to you?”
But the point at issue was the disposal of everyday waste — of the type that Ms Rotherham, or any householder would have collected from their home on a fortnightly basis. The fact is that all boaters will create a similar amount of waste each fortnight as any household — and with very little recycling opportunities along the K&A Canal they are likely to produce more.”
Ian Sharpe who operates White Horse Boats from the Wharf said: “There has been very little abuse of the bins by non-boaters — and a compound with a “BWB key “ would probably stop this — we really do need bins back with the number of boats stopping over in Devizes now.”
“And” he said: ‘I regularly take bags of rubbish home from inside the Elsan Point left there because there is nowhere else to leave rubbish.”
The K&A Canal Trust had the bins removed
The latest removal of the bins was in November/December 2010 at the instigation of the then K&A Canal Trust General Manager, Dr Mike Rodd prior to the visit of the lantern parade to the wharf as part of the canal’s bicentenary celebrations.
He was quoted in the Wiltshire Gazette on 28th November as saying:” British Waterways knows nothing about them and Wiltshire Council at first said it wasn’t even their land, which is alarming as we have been paying them rent for many years.
“We have contacted the skip owners, Biffa, who said they had no details of any contract here. The skips have been here for months.”
Di Harris said: “If Dr Rodd was quoted accurately by the newspaper it is ridiculous for him to claim that neither BW or BIFFA knew anything about the skips because they had been previously removed and then replaced after complaints to BW by boaters.”
"It is unfortunate that the K&A Canal Trust should have been instrumental in having the skips removed, but then Dr Rodd does not boat on the K&A and may have little understanding of local boater’s needs.”