At the July meeting of the Volunteer London towpath rangers we gave poor old Dick Vincent, our CRT leader a bit of a hard time, grumbling about lack of progress on a number of things on the towpath that needed fixing. Well yesterday we had our August meeting and I'm glad to say things are looking up a little bit.
Firstly rubbish bin collections. We have been complaining for a while that every time we come across a bin, it's full to overflowing and there is often a load more rubbish lying round the bin. National contractors Fountains are paid to empty these bins, and in London they are supposed to do them very regularly. Suspicions were that they were failing to maintain the schedule. Now we hear that our evidence prompted CRT to withdraw payments from the contractors until the collections were done properly and hey presto all of a sudden the bins are getting emptied more regularly and now when you find one it has space in it for your crisp packet.
We're also making progress on moves to require canal side businesses to keep their advertising A boards clear of the foot /cycle way in order to prevent accidental collisions. Once we get the rules set up, boards will have to be authorised and comply with positioning requirements or else be removed. On a more difficult front we're working on ideas to keep illegal motorcyclists off the towpath - a particular problem in the Cowley / Slough Arm area. Next week were having an on site look at the possibilities for suitable barriers.
More news I picked up at the meeting.
There is a lot less floating rubbish in the Regent's Canal lately thanks to Richard one of our volunteers and the London Boaters Group who have acquired a small boat which patrols the area regularly scooping up the rubbish.
Some people who have been living in tents on the towpath in the St Pancras area have been the subject of a long effort to get them relocated. CRT have done a lot to help them find alternative accommodation but the alternatives found have been refused by the campers. As a last resort CRT went to court this week and secured an order to remove them and prevent them from returning. Things like this are going to keep happening as long as Uncle Boris and co continue to tolerate the housing catastrophe in London. Property prices and rents are way beyond anything normal people can contemplate. No wonder the canal is filling up with live aboard boats. All this is not good for people wanting to visit the capital by boat, but CRT's recent rethink on mooring might work to help visiting boats and passers through. They are identifying a number of short stay sites and seem to be resolved to enforce the maximum stay times at these spots. We'll have to see how it works. One good sign is that yesterday there were five or six empty spaces in Paddington basin!
On the way home from the meeting I picked up a copy of the Evening Standard which included a letter from a lady whose deaf husband was regularly terrified by careless cyclists speeding along the towpath on the Regents Canal. We still have much to do.