Desperately needed facilities still being stalled

August 2017 - London's boaters have consistently complained about the lack of facilities, especially rubbish disposal, and Alec Wood asks what has Canal & River Trust has achieved following promises to rectify the situation.

A survey earlier this year by the National Bargee Travellers Association London showed 91 per cent of boaters said facilities in the London area are inadequate and 92 per cent of people of people said there should be more rubbish/bin points.

Even C&RT staff members on social media have been posting pictures of flying tipping, overflowing bins and ‘improper’ use of litter bins, but what is C&RT doing to address the shortages?

NBTA London has been meeting with C&RT armed with the results of its survey, showing where and what facilities people want; and C&RT had previously agreed to provide the equivalent to three rubbish points, water points, elsan and pump out.

The Bargee Travellers organisation proposed new facilities sites to C&RT in April this year pointing towards bin sites at Ponders End Lock, Rye House, Bulls Bridge and Denham. In the meeting C&RT didn't have any disagreements with these sites and it could take six weeks to see if these sites were possible.

But, two months later when NBTA London had another meeting with C&RT, there hadn't been much progress. C&RT said Picketts Lock good for wheelie bins; Rye House was good in principle, but C&RT were still awaiting permission from the landowner for access.

Now it is four months on, and there has been no news on the other sites. However, in an unexpected turn, C&RT has said it is looking at the possibility of a bin boat, that would travel boat to boat picking up rubbish. Still the Trust says it cannot be certain it would happen.

When asked what the organisation is doing to address the lack of refuse bin points, Sam Thomas, London’s C&RT Customer Operations Manager said: “The growing quantity of rubbish affects everyone who uses the waterways and, as the charity that looks after London’s canals and rivers, we want to do everything in our power to help reduce it.

“We’re committed to working with boaters and local partners including local councils, developers and local businesses to provide appropriate refuse and recycling facilities for boaters. We’ll be setting out more plans in our draft London Mooring Strategy early in September and will be asking boaters to share their views.

“Working with boaters we have identified a number of potential places where we may be able to install new bins as well as improving existing sites. However, identifying locations is only part of the solution.

“The Trust doesn’t always have access to appropriate sites and we may need to reach agreements with private landowners to ensure that we can collect refuse from these sites. This can take some time and it’s something we’re working on at the moment.”

So, despite months of delay C&RT has no solid plan yet and has bounced the issue into the London Mooring Strategy where it may well get conveniently lost.

It seems boaters are going to have to wait a bit longer. In the meantime Sam Thomas seems to thinks boaters can't find the few facilities that do exists and has sent the NBTA a list of the locations of C&RT facilities - and indirectly suggested they may be fly-tipping.

Sam Thomas said: “A list of all the existing facilities in London can be found on our website here. We urge everyone to dispose of rubbish in the right place. Inconsiderate and illegal fly-tipping of any rubbish on the towpath is not acceptable.”

Photo: Sunken and abandoned - C&RT's version of fly tipping in London?

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