Towpath Mess – Bradford on Avon to Avoncliff. April 2018

Dear local residents of Bradford on Avon.

Is no one else not upset by the state of the canal towpath between Bradford on Avon and Avoncliff?

There are a small minority of boaters / boats that (at times) use the towpath as their extended dumping ground. I understand boaters need to make repairs, however, we have reached a point where it appears that this stretch of the canal (used by hundreds of local residents of BoA and beyond) is now reached a “tipping point” (excuse the pun)

What can be done?

Engage with these boaters?

  • Ask if they can clean-up their belongings from the towpath?
  • Ask why they cannot move like other continuous cruiser licence payers?
  • Do they need help support?
  • Offer to help them cleanup.

Contact the canal river trust?

Contact Wiltshire County Council (who manage the Barton country park)?

  • Write to the council, ask them to help?

Pest Control, Noise and Pollution, Environmental Health 0300 456 0107 ku.vo1590481956g.eri1590481956hstli1590481956w@sec1590481956ivres1590481956remot1590481956suc1590481956

Or register report litter incident


I realise this is a contentious issue, with different sides.
If we give and take on both sides, this can be easily resolved.

But finally, lets try and have pride and care for our canal towpath, so we can ALL share and enjoy.


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    • The local boat community shouldn’t be picked on just because you feel they are somehow spoiling the view. Have you seen the film Off The Cut? It’s free to view on Youtube ( ) Please watch it and you will see that several of the boat owners (who you are suggesting people ask why they can’t move) are included in the film and are already in dialogue with CART and feeling threatened in their homes. For some people, boat life is what is stopping then from being completely homeless. There is a severe lack of affordable housing in our area and I feel sad that this post seems to be encouraging people to further harrass boat dwellers who may have no other housing options. Continuous cruising licences are the only option for boaters in this area as there are very few moorings available, and no genuine residential moorings. If you actually want to be helpful, consider writing to CART and Wiltshire Council to ask them to create low cost moorings with proper facilities for residential boaters!

      • I dont think locals are trying to be unfair. As householders, there are certain rules and regulations that we have to live our lives by, one of these is living together and side by side with other house dwellers. This is how society works, and its not the fault of the many that the life style of the few is making the place look hideous. We do in life, have to live by rules and looking after the countryside, people and surrounds is important, if we all pull our weight, it works,
        The situation at the moment doesnt,

      • I think you are being extremely unfair. No one is threatening their homes they are simply saying the canal route is looking like a refuse tip which it is and they are abusing the rules and good nature of CRT and the local community. If anything they are provoking everyone and threatening their own locality by turning it into a slum.

        I think it is also unfair to expect CRT to act as a social housing office and community support group. When anyone starts using the canal the rules are there for everyone to sign up to and agree to. For anyone using the canal to continually flout these rules and disrespect all the other users is unfair.

        The canal route is a disgrace and it is a small minority that think they can expand their “territory” as far as they can get away with. The reason there aren’t many permanent moorings is to allow trippers and holiday makers to experience both Avoncliff and BoA, support local businesses without having to walk miles.

        Also as you well know if you choose to use the canal without a mooring you have to keep moving, these boats do not. It is not CRTs responsibility to house anyone it is the individuals and the councils if there are financial difficulties.

    • I’m
      Sure many residents will agree with the state of the towpath- there does seem a reluctance of authorities to do little or nothing about the mess and scrap metal, junk etc appearing and increasing rapidly. Living side by side with canal dwellers requires compromise by both parties. At the moment it’s an unpleasant hideous mess, rapidily making the canal the talking point for all the wrong reasons. It’s an eyesore. A place to avoid.

    • I agree with Ruth …i am not a boater, but recognise that living on a boat is for some people, the only affordable housing option there is. I regularly cycle the stretch from BonA to Bath for work, and as far as i am aware the stretch that appears unsightly (and this is of course pretty subjective) is that short stretch in the pictures….and I think they are the belongings of perhaps one, maybe two individuals. The rest of the canal towpath is pretty clear. . Someone just has to talk to the owner of the bits and pieces and figure out (in the absence of affordable mooring space) where he can store them. I think this is a temporary issue and tolerance and understanding is needed for the moment .
      I really appreciate what the canal and residential boaters offer, culturally and aethestically. This isn’t a big deal. Louise

    • The stuff alongside the towpath on this short stretch may be junk, but it isn’t litter, and it hadn’t been dumped: it’s a boater’s possessions. The towpath has not been obstructed, so the tat doesn’t bother me – though I do wonder why it has taken so long for the nearly-sunk boat from which it comes to sort itself out.

    • I know this message will be viewed as me being unfair to the boating community, but the mess along the canal is unacceptable.

      As pointed out above, everyone else has to live by the rules of where they live. If my house became unusable for any reason, I could not just put all of my belongings on the pavement and live there. The council would move them and me somewhere else.

      Also, I do feel bad for the gentleman who’s boat was sunk. It does appear that his boat was full of bricks though… Not sure that was a wise move and may be why his was the only one that sunk when those idiots sped past a large stretch.

      I agree there should be a grace period for him to sort his stuff. There has been. Nearly a year.

      To have the canal side cluttered up with bricks, chemicals and scrap metal is not ok.

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