Friends of Regent’s Canal - Minutes of Meeting

Date and Time:
Wednesday 13th May 2015, 7pm to 9pm
London Canal Museum, 12-13 New Wharf Road, London N1 9RT

Ian Shacklock

1. Present

Morgane Vacher Boater
Adrian D
Steve Bass resident, Treaty Street
Adam Bramhall City West Servivces
Elliot Lancaster City West Servivces
Gillian Comins Angel Association; Living Streets
Maura Ryan-Dommergue
Shaun Pollard
Helena Marsh Resident
Ian Shacklock Friends of Regent's Canal
John White Friends of Mile End Park; Lower Regents Coalition
Dave Bedford Lower Regents Coalition
Jennet Eyre Angel Association
Ruth Aplin Resident
David Roberts Boater
Bob Philpotts Resident of Tower Hamlets
Gordon Meen Reachview Resident
Fiona Cullen Angel Association
Eric Naylor Local resident and visiting boater
David Grigson resident
Ros Pomeroy resident
Richard Elkan London Canal Volunteers CRT
Hilary Norris resident, Treaty Street
Guy Taylor prospective boater
Jean Roberts resident
Katrin Boehm canalside studios resident
Jacob Kenedy The Prince of Wales pub
Rod Wakem resident
Del Brenner Regents Network. London Waterways Commission; Regents Canal CAAC
Zannthie Bennett Kings Cross Forum
Steve Ballard Resident CRT volunteer
Roger London Canals
Christine Kemp towpath ranger (Bow) 3 Mills Mooring Assoc
Beryl Windsor Angel Canal Festival; St Pancras Cruising Club
Evan Milton
Martin Sach London Canal Museum

2. Apologies

Cllr Barbara Graham
Jim Armstrong
Cordelia Oxley
Caoline Neller
Carolyn Clark
Martin Reading
Tony Islander
Cllr Paul Convery
Maiike Milligan
Ron Gooding
Fiona MacLean
Denise Walker
Nic Shore
Sorwar Ahmed
Garrie Naden

3. Introductions

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

4. Announcements

4.1 The Vincent Terrace walkway was due to re-open on 22nd May. Jennet Eyre has set up a group known as Friends of Vincent Terrace Gardens.

4.2 The Pump House Cafe at has been closed for several months. The Canal and River Trust has reported that repair work cannot start until the school holidays.

4.3 Jacob Kenedy reported that his planning application was successful for the refurbishment of the Prince of Wales pub in Vincent Terrace. He had bought the building back from developers and will return it to public use in early 2016. He thanked the Friends of Regent's Canal for their support in winning this application.

4.4 The new Bluebell Moorings are being built above Acton's Lock and will be marketed in June. Their estimated rental cost will be 8,000 per annum. Jim Armstrong of the Laburnum Boat Club has complained that the constructors had taken the moorings right up to the lock, leaving no room for boats to turn. The architect had already agreed to modify the plans to address this. An additional concern is that this design could prevent the future revival of the second lock chamber.

4.5 Hackney Council has received a planning application for a six-storey structure on the car park alongside Canalside Studios in Orsman Road. This would dominate all the existing buildings and would gobble up the open space on the water's edge. Evan Milton and Katrin Boehm described their campaign to prevent this from happening and the chair offered to write an objection letter to the council. The meeting agreed to this. Further information is available on our website:-

4.6 The chair announced that the Better Relationships Group (BRG) was holding a meeting on 14th May. These meetings are not open to the public but their attendees are selected from affected parties, including residents, leisure boaters, continuous cruisers. Several of the participants are regular attendees at the Friends meetings. Christine Kemp described some of the recent discussions and outcomes of the BRG.

4.7 The Holborn Studios open day (14th March) was a successful event. It gave an opportunity for a wide cross-section of the public to discover the workings of the studios and to see the standard of the building maintenance.

4.8 The Bethnal Green gasholders are still at risk of demolition. English Heritage has declined an opportunity to protect them.

4.9 Further overcrowding is expected on London's Canals. At the recent Canal and River Trust user forum it was announced that 24 aditional boats were arriving in the London region every month. It was unclear whether this referred to central London or whether it included the Lea and Stort, but this statistic sends a clear signal that demand is rapidly exceeding supply.

5. Litter control - London Canal Volunteers.

5.1 Richard Elkan gave a talk on his initiative to tackle water-borne litter problems and his successful bid for a grant from the London Mayor. He described the activites of the London Canal Volunteers using a 12 foot aluminium dory to clear litter from the water surface and from the offside of the canal. This work was featured on a BBC1 documentary in November 2014 and an illustrated transcipt is available on our website:-

6. Litter control - other initiatives.

6.1 Elliot Lancaster and Adam Bramhall introduced themselves and explained how they could use their resources to assist volunteers with litter clearance. They were representing City West Services, a cleaning company that operates in King's Cross. Elliot had spoken at the Friends meeting on 26th November 2014 and had offered to supply a small boat for volunteers to use. Progress since then has been disappointingly slow and has been dependent on reaching agreement with the Canal and River Trust (CRT). The CRT had stated that they were setting up a meeting to arrange for City West Services to take on an adoption of the towpath.

6.2 Dave Bedford introduced himself and reminded the meeting that the Lower Regent's Coalition was still going strong. This is a volunteer group formed in 2013 that works to improve the health and appearance of the waterway and surrounding green spaces. In 2014 it removed huge amounts of rubbibsh from the Regent's Canal while it was drained and it has won grants to install planters on and around the canal. New volunteers are always welcome and further information is available on its Facebook page.

6.3 The chair reported that the Canal and River Trust and the Police were mobilising resources in anticpiation of another unauthorised Canalival event. He urged everyone to use social media to help to cancel out any promotions of this event, on the grounds that it was harmful to wildlife and interfered with navigation.

7. London Wildlife Trust

7.1 Maiike Milligan had arranged to talk to the meeting about the work of the Wildlife of your Waterways (WoW) project. This is based in Camley Street and has helped with preserving habitats and in litter control. Unfortunately Maiike was off sick and needed to cancel her talk.

7.2 The chair presented some photographs to promote the positive features of Camley Street Natural Park. He also presented some images of a proposed footbridge that will slice off the northend end of the park and will block several views along the canal. The justification for the footbridge was to provide permeability between Camden and the King's Cross shopping arena but a number of people were puzzled by this because there are already other footbridges available. The photographs and illustrations are on our website:-

8. Heritage Projects

8.1 Carolyn Clark had reported that the Laburnum Boat Club's bid to the Heritage Lottery had been successful. She had spoken at our meeting on 26th November 2014 about a project to research and promote the history of the Herford Union Canal and the Tower Hamlets stretches of the Regent's Canal. It is hoped that the Friends of Regent's Canal will take a lead role in making connections and promoting the project. The project will start in June and will deliver an exhibition and open days in July 2016.

8.2 Lesley Pryde, a volunteer at the London Canal Museum, has invited the Friends of the Regents Canal to be a partner on a refurbishment project at the museum. This project will focus on the display cases in the first floor gallery that tell the story of the Regent's Canal.

9. Angel Canal Festival

9.1 Beryl Windsor spoke about the origins of the Angel Canal Festival and about plans for this year's event on Sunday 6th September. She invited volunteers to help with the running of this festival.

9.2 Once again, the Friends of Regent's Canal will have a stall near the lock and volunteers are invited to help to promote our activiities.

10. Next meeting

10.1 Our next meeting will probably take place in early July in Holborn Studios. The main item on the agenda will be heritage and this will be an opportunity to build up support for the Tower Hamlets project mentioned in section 8.1 above.