Friends of Regent’s Canal - Minutes of Meeting

Date and Time:
Wednesday 26th November 2014, 7pm to 9pm
London Canal Museum, 12-13 New Wharf Road, London N1 9RT

Ian Shacklock

1. Present

John Checkley Angel Community Canal Boat Trust.
Jennet Eyre Angel Association
Gillian Comins Angel Association; Living Streets
James Tregaskis Resident, Sturt's Lock
Fiona Maclean London Narrow Boat Association, local Boater, resident
Colin Legge London Boater
Meg Lee London Boater
Rod Wakem Resident
Ernest Jegorovas Islington Green Party
Richard Elkan London Canal Volunteers
Pat Hamilton Associate
Marcus Trower Boater. National Bargee Travellers Association
David Ros Boater
Paul Strudwick Inland Waterways Association
Helen Smith Boater
Dohne Arnold Resident Noel Road
Tegan Palmer Boater
Dave Mendes da Costa Boater
Vincent McCartney Holborn Studios. Eagle Wharf Marina
Mikaela Khan Canal and River Trust
Ian McDowell Boater
Lucy Rees Boater
Malcolm Tucker Walker
Tony Smetham London Boaters. National Bargee Travellers Association
Dan Simon
Bob Philpotts Resident
Ron Gooding Boater. Caretaker. BRG
Sanna Jonsson Buttery Boater
Mike Doherty Boater
Chris Tilbury Journalist at City University
Daisy Reynolds Boater. Design project at Queen Mary University
Keith Southam Ramblers
Charlie Kiss Islington Green Party
Carolyn Clark Heritage consultant
Emma Robertson Boater
Mike Siddell Boater
David Fathers Author
Pogue Muhone Boater
John Smith Boat owner
Cordelia Oxley Residential Boater
Hilary Norris Resident, Treaty Street
Steve Bass Resident, Treaty Street
Pierre Merat Boater
Morgane Vacher Boater
Steve Ballard Resident
Elliot Lancaster City West Services
Sorwar Ahmed Canal and River Trust
Ian Shacklock Friends of Regent's Canal
Garrie Naden resident, Wenlock Basin
Del Brenner Regents Network. London Waterways Commission; Regents Canal CAAC
Martin Sach London Canal Museum

2. Apologies

Roger Squires
Rod Gray
Beverley Dean
Cllr Paul Convery
Cllr Rupert Perry
Cllr Martin Klute
Cllr Richard Cotton
Caroline Neller
Tony Islander
Nic Shore
Andy Inge
Paddy Screech
John White
Jacob Kennedy
Mark Ormrod
Lucy Rogers

3. Introductions

3.1 At the start of the meeting, all the attendees introduced themselves.

4. Announcements

4.1 CRT Meeting with boaters and community groups

The Canal & River Trust (CRT) had arranged a meeting on 1st December to enable the council and other stakeholders to agree an action plan for managing the canal in Islington and Hackney. Places were limited but a healthy cross-section of the current Friends meeting had been invited and the chair urged everybody to liaise with suitable representatives.

Post-meeting note. A copy of the official meeting notes (PDF format) is available on our website.

4.2 Winter works open day at City Road Lock.

The Canal & River Trust had been carrying out repairs at City Road Lock and had arranged open days on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th December. This was an opportunity for volunteers to get involved and for the public to meet CRT engineers and to understand the nature of their work.

Post-meeting note. Some photographs of this event are available on the CRT website.

4.3 ACCT receives Queen's Award for Voluntary Service

On 2nd June 2014 the Angel Boat (Angel Community Canal Boat Trust) received a prestigious award as recognition of work done in their own community. A press release is available on our website.

4.4 Vincent Terrace still closed.

The Vincent Terrace walkway along the offside of the canal has remained closed to the public for most of 2014. Some images of this picturesque stretch are available on our website. This issue was discussed at our meetings on 19th February and 28th May. This issue is still being discussed by lawyers at Islington Council and the Canal & River Trust and we are expecting some progress to be announced in the new year.

4.5 Biodiversity dissertation.

On 1st July we were approached by Fanny Blanc, an MSc student in regional and urban planning studies at the London School of Economics. She had chosen to work on a project on biodiversity enhancement on the Regent's Canal and her focus was on the role of planning documents in the translation of scientific information into wildlife management and biodiversity enhancement. A copy of her final dissertation is available (in PDF format) on our website.

The chair urged everyone with a keen interest in biodiversity to read this and other documents. Charlie Kiss requested that it should be circulated to the local Green Party activists.

4.6 Architecture - demolition of gasholders in Tower Hamlets.

In late September we were notified about petitions to save the gasholders at Bethnal Green and Poplar. These were organised by the East London Waterway Group and we helped their cause by tweeting their links to other campaign groups across London. Many people regard these structures as iconic landmarks on the canal, while others want to see them demolished to make way for housing. This subject has attracted media attention and prior to the meeting an article had appeared in the Independent.

4.7 Threat to the Book Barge at Paddington.

An online petition had been launched to show support for the floating bookshop that had become a popular and familiar sight near Paddington Basin. This had been reported on BBC London News and in the latest edition of Private Eye. Further details are available on our website.

Paddy Screech was unable to attend this meeting and local author David Fathers read out a statement on his behalf to the meeting. The chair suggested that discussion should be deferred until the national press office of the Canal & River Trust had responded.

5. Volunteering Opportunities - King's Cross

5.1 Elliot Lancaster of City West Services introduced himself to the audience and outlined his proposals to work in partnership with local canal volunteers.

5.2 Elliot runs a cleaning company that has a contract with King's Cross Central. He has identified opportunities to use boats and other equipment to clear litter from the water surface and is keen to develop working relationships with the Friends of Regent's Canal.

5.3 Initial projects would cover the King's Cross area but there could be other opportunities in the future to extend this type of Corporate Social Responsibility to other stretches of the waterways.

5.4 If anybody wants to get involved with these proposals then they should contact or

6. Regent's Canal East End Heritage Project

6.1 Carolyn Clark introduced herself to the audience and described an opportunity for the Friends to lead a Lottery-funded heritage project.

6.2 Carolyn had previously led a similar heritage project that spanned the Hackney stretches of the canal and she is applying for a grant for the Tower Hamlets and Hertford Union stretches.

6.3 Participants in the previous project included the Laburnum Boat Club and the Canals in Hackney User Group (CHUG). Special events included a Heritage Day across Hackney and a Then and Now talk at Shoreditch Library. In addition, an exhibition was hosted at Shoreditch Library and at Laburnum Boat Club and booklets were distributed at various events.

6.4 If the Tower Hamlets bid is successful then the Friends of Regent's Canal will take a lead role in carrying out research, making connections and promoting the project.

7. Holborn Studios

7.1 Vincent McCartney, founder of Holborn Studios, introduced himself to the audience and explained the situation with the lease on the Eagle Wharf site. There are fresh proposals to demolish buildings on the site. The chimney and parts of the frontage would be retained but the studios in their current form would no longer exist. Vincent supplied copies of leaflets that were being distributed by the new landowners as part of a consultation.

7.2 There was overwhelming support from the audience to save the buildings and the studios. The Friends of Regent's Canal will continue to challenge any proposals that compromise the existing canal frontage and the chair appealed for assistance in any future campaigns.

7.3 Post-meeting note: Examples of these proposals have been posted on our website.

8. Discussion on Canal Capacity

8.1 The main item on the agenda was a discussion on canal capacity. Unsurprisingly, this discussion was constrained by time limitations and not by shortage of viewpoints.

8.2 The printed agenda included the following ideas to stimulate discussion.

  • What are the rules for mooring?
  • Why do we need any rules?
  • Who are the winners and losers if the rules are enforced/relaxed?
  • What is the current mooring capacity?
  • How many spaces are permanently reserved?
  • How many spaces are available for short-term visitors?
  • How many spaces are available for continuous cruisers?
  • What is the maximum potential capacity?
  • Why is there no mooring along Regent's Park?
  • What are the pros and cons of installing electricity points?
  • How can different user types co-exist in this shared space without any group dominating?
  • Is there any demand for short-term moorings in London (e.g. at shops/pubs)?
  • Woulds anybody benefit from a booking system for visitor moorings?
  • What can be done to stop costs spiralling out of control?

8.3 Prior to the discussion the chair gave a short presentation to illustrate the available space along each stretch of the Regent's Canal. Boaters in the audience were already familiar with these scenes but the photographs provided useful context for residents and other canal users who were unfamiliar with areas outside their neighbourhood. The presentation demonstrated that there were no mooring spaces available between Little Venice and Primrose Hill. This was partly due to tunnels and other restrictions West of Regent's Park and partly due to an unwritten 'No Mooring' police along the perimeter of Regent's Park. The presentation slides are available at the following location:-

8.4 Discussion

There was a lively discussion for over half an hour when members of the audience raised questions and comments. The original intention was to understand the mooring capacity and reasons for and against making alterations. No conclusions were reached but the discussion enabled a diverse cross-section of canal users to express their priorities and concerns. For example, residents of Treaty Street were concerned about the proximity and density of occupied boats on their doorsteps, visiting boaters complained about lack of available moorings for overnight stops, some of the local boaters wanted the Canal and River Trust to provide additional mooring rings while others wanted greater enforcement of existing rules. One area of disagreement was whether the whole length of the towpath should be dedicated to mooring or whether a significant proportion should be kept free for anglers, walkers and other users to appreciate the views of the water.

8.5 The chair adjourned the discussion when the allocated time had been exceeded and he urged everybody to use the coffee break, e-mail and other means to continue to exchange viewpoints.