There was a lot going on behind the scenes on the riverbank over the New Year period, but a disappointing lack of anything to show for it on the front line.
The EA continued to build their big legal case against the four slumboats which have blighted the river for so many years. The boats, in the meanwhile, contemptuously spent the winter moored for free on EA land, two at Hurst Park and two at Molesey lock. The public look on in amazement and hope that the legal case, when it eventually comes, can put an end once and for all to their ghastly commercial abuse of the river.
Meanwhile tensions with the floating community opposite Aquarius Sailing Club escalated just before Christmas, when the boaters started to put up fencing along the riverbank and to form self-enclosed “gardens”! Horrified users of the towpath assumed that there would be robust instructions to dismantle from Elmbridge Borough Council (“EBC”) and/or the EA, but there are complex legal considerations on that section of the riverbank, and the fences were still there a month later.
We at RoR2 are working closely with the above bodies and with Surrey County Council to resolve the matter – clearly extensive fencing and manipulation of shrubbery, cutting the public river off from genuine users of the Thames Path, cannot be allowed.
We are pleased to say that our working partnership with EBC is going from strength to strength. They are taking a very close interest in the riverbank issues and have just added a section to their website. They will soon be augmenting this with up to date information under individual hotspot headings.
We continue to push hard for EA action opposite Wheatley’s Eyot, where a front line operation is long overdue. This area, near the Excel centre, is calmer than it was last summer, when horrific abuses and verbal assaults on local householders were taking place, but the continued presence of abandoned boats and unconsented moorings can only be a magnet for the return of antisocial elements, and the EA has a clear duty to act now.
The RoR2 regular newsletter expands on these and other topics – you can join the mailing list (and get a copy of the January mailing) by indicating your support to email@example.com . Many thanks to all our hundreds of supporters for their loyalty and encouragement, and to Monica for continuing to grant us space in the Village Matters magazines.