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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Coal boat run on the K&A

Victoria and Spencer Collins are making a fuel run from Hilperton to Wootton Rivers on the Long Pound on the K&A Canal this weekend.

They were at Foxhangers today — up the Devizes Flight tomorrow and along the Long Pound over the weekend and back to Foxhangers on Tuesday.

Give them a ring on 07790 017418  or stop them them on the way.

Diesel 77p a litre
Coal (all 25 kg bags)
Wildfire £7.70, Stoveglow £8.50, Excel £9.35, Supatherm £9.30, Homefire £11.05, Taybrite £10.65, Anthracite (small nuts) £8.60 

Calor gas: £27.25 

They can take card payments over the phone.

Saturday — at Pewsey Wharf

Monday, September 01, 2014

No boaters' rubbish disposal for busy Devizes Wharf says CRT Contracts Manager

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 refute 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.” 

Friday, April 04, 2014

Damsels in distressCommon Darter dragonfly: Picture by Ian & Gill McColl

Common Darter dragonfly: Picture by Ian & Gill McColl
The wettest winter since records began could have damaged dragonfly and damselfly populations for years to come say the Canal & River Trust — and it is asking people to monitor the insects as part of its annual Great Nature Watch which starts today. 
 Fluctuating river levels and fast currents are known to wash away dragonfly larva (or nymphs) an as larva live underwater for up to three years, the recent floods may have a long-term effect on dragonfly populations.

Canal & River Trust group environment manager, Peter Birch, said: “Dragonflies, and their sister damselflies, flourish in clean water which is rich in bankside vegetation, such as reeds. This makes them a fantastic indicator of the health of a canal or river. While this year’s floods have had an obvious impact on larger animals, birds and fish, we are also particularly concerned with the impact on invertabrates, which form the foundation stones of a healthy water environment. We would expect to see an increase in numbers of mosquitoes and midges which prefer stagnant and isolated water, but we may also see a drop in the numbers of dragonflies emerging this Spring."

Dragonflies are an ancient species, whose ancestors were around before the dinosaurs. While many of us recognise them as beautiful flying summer insects, they spend most of their lives as underwater larva. They emerge ‘on the wing’ for a few brief months to mate and lay their eggs before dying.

The Great Nature Watch asks you to record your sightings of all wildlife you see on a canal, river, reservoir or lake. Records can be submitted by downloading the Trust’s free mobile app or online at www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/great-nature-watch.

Anyone can take part, and record as many sightings as they like between now and September.
Damselflies mating: Picture by Ian & Gill McColl

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Wiltshire Radical History Day

White Horse (Wiltshire) Trades Union Council will be running its second Radical History Day on Saturday at The Cause in Chippenham. 
 Entry is free and the event runs from 10am to 4pm.  

The speakers during the day will be:
Jeremy Corbyn MP
From Wiltshire to Westminster

Professor Steve Poole from the
University of the West of England
The gallows, the gibbet and the rural poor

Melissa Barnett
Curator of Chippenham Museum on
Dame Florence Hancock

Nigel Costley
South West TUC Regional Secretary on
West Country Rebels

Rosie MacGregor
The life of Angela Gradwell Tuckett

Saturday 29th March 2014 10am-4pm

The Cause, 42 The Causeway, Chippenham SN15 3DD
● Free entry ● Bar and buffet lunch ●

For more information and to register in advance email: 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Continuous Cruising Judicial Review claim withdrawn — but gives 'no comfort' to CRT

Any hopes the Canal and River Trust (CRT) had that a judgement in its favour in a Judicial Review claim brought by the National Bargee Travellers Association (NBTA) would give the force of law to its interpretation of the rules governing ‘continuous cruising’ were dashed yesterday (Wed 19 February 2014) when the action was discontinued.

Nick Brown, Legal Officer of the NBTA
Nick Brown, claimant in the judicial review proceedings against Canal & River Trust (CRT) to decide whether the Guidance for Boaters Without a Home Mooring is lawful, yesterday afternoon discontinued the action. He said “During the hearing it became apparent that this case could not after all decide on the lawfulness of the Guidance because I am not facing any enforcement action myself. Therefore the case should not continue”.

In his judgment Mr Justice Lewis stated:
"During the course of argument I raised a problem that is that the Courts are reminded of the undesirability of deciding an issue absent a proper factual context... the Court has warned against abstract actions and needs a proper factual matrix to assess cases... In the light of that there is very little purpose to this hearing as it would not resolve anything. CRT would prefer, as a responsible public body, to have a judgment that would allow it to discharge its duties in the right way but any judgement that I could give would be very little use on the ground.”

Nick Brown who was represented by Chris Johnson of Community Law Partnership and Martin Westgate QC said: “The arguments presented by my legal team will be of assistance to boaters who are subject to enforcement action”. 
“The more you look at the statute the weirder it becomes”
The judge raised a number of legal points that will be of no comfort to CRT. He found s.17 (3) (c) (ii) of the British Waterways Act unclear: “The more you look at the statute the weirder it becomes” he commented. He added that it would have been helpful if CRT had addressed this dispute by seeking new legislation. Mr Justice Hildyard also told CRT this in the Moore case in 2012.
"as far as 'bona fide navigation' was concerned, what was good for boaters with moorings was also good for those without. “An occasional trip down to the Dog and Duck” might very well be bona fide navigation whether this was from a marina or from a towpath spot."
Mr Justice Lewis agreed that as far as “bona fide navigation” was concerned, what was good for boaters with moorings was also good for those without. “An occasional trip down to the Dog and Duck” might very well be bona fide navigation whether this was from a marina or from a towpath spot.
 “Place” could be as small as an individual boat length”
Mr Justice Lewis also observed that “Place” could be as small as an individual boat length, by stating that the mooring or other “place” to keep a boat required by s.17(3)(c)(i) has the same meaning as the “place” used in s.17(3)(c)(ii).

Mr Justice  Lewis also stated that in his opinion, the Guidance took legislation that was already difficult to understand and did not make understanding it easier. Mr Brown observed that this means the Guidance is of little assistance to a boater seeking to ensure he is compliant with the British Waterways Act 1995. Contrary to CRT’s assertion that the Guidance remains “valid and applicable” it is now called into question.

Mr Brown was granted leave to proceed with the judicial review by Lord Justice Jackson in July 2013. Permission was confined to the issue of whether the Guidance accurately reflects s.17(3)(c)(ii) of the British Waterways Act 1995. This governs the obligations of boaters without home moorings. Non-compliance can result in the seizure and removal of the boat.

CRT attempted to claim costs in excess of £100,000 which could deter other challengers, but Mr Justice Lewis rejected CRT’s application and ruled that CRT would have to justify the amount claimed.

Fran Read the National Press Officer of the Canal & River Trust CRT said: “The Trust’s legal team has always viewed this claim as misconceived and confirms that the Guidance remains valid and applicable for boaters without a home mooring.”

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Kintbury panto to aid boating charity

The annual pantomime by the Kintbury St Mary's Drama Group this year will raise money for the Bruce Trust — a charity which provides boating holidays for disabled, disadvantaged or older people from its bases at Lower Foxhangers and Great Bedwyn on the Kennet & Avon Canal.
Email: rebecca.bruce@brucetrust.org.uk

Bruce Trust Fact File
The Bruce Trust was formed in 1988 by Louise and David Bruce after they sold their chain of Firkin Pubs in London.

They were keen to plough some of the proceeds into a project that would benefit the community and they had become intrigued by the possibility of offering self-catering holidays to disabled, disadvantaged or elderly people cruising on the Kennet & Avon Canal.

After much research they initially put their own money into the project — and over the years they have received many generous donations to the Trust enabling the fleet to be increased to four specially-designed, purpose-built, wide-beam canal boats.

The extra width of the boats gives plenty of space for wheelchair users to manoeuvre and the boats have special built-in facilities, including hydraulic lifts, wide-access boarding ramps, low-level bunks, heating and specially fitted showers and toilets.

Their have been designed so that wheelchair users can steer the boat using the tiller and both Hannah and Rachel have been fitted with a remote steering device that enables people with less upper body mobility to steer from their wheelchair using a joystick.

The Bruce Trust has made it possible for more than 13,000 disabled, disadvantaged or elderly people — and their carers, friends or family — to enjoy participative canal-cruising holidays on the boats. As one family said:

“With increasing age and disability my father Harry’s days of enjoying canal holidays seemed to be over. But last week, there he was rising up on the lift to take the tiller once again and having a wonderful holiday with four generations of his family”.

The holiday makers are helped on their way by the dedication of more than 90 voluntary helpers who make sure that the Trust can operate in the best and most economical fashion.

Some volunteers also crew day trips — this year more than 400 people from day centres or residential homes for the elderly were able to enjoy a day of peaceful cruising on the canal.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Coal & diesel deliveries on the Long Pound on the K&A Canal

Spencer and Victoria Collins of The Boatyard, Hilperton will be delivering solid fuel, gas, diesel and some chandlery along 
the Long Pound between Devizes and Wootton Rivers on the Kennet & Avon Canal between the 3rd and 6th of January.

You can stop them and buy — or text them on 07790 017418 — and they will deliver to your boat whether you are onboard or away. You can pay by card or cash  in advance or on the day.

On board they have: 
Calor Gas: 13 kg Propane £25.49
Diesel: 82p per litre (domestic)