Angling Trust & British Canoeing in Court Soon?

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Big Henry
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Angling Trust & British Canoeing in Court Soon?

Post by Big Henry » Fri Feb 19, 2016 1:43 pm

Yesterday I was at Winston Bridge on the River Tees waiting for some other paddlers to arrive when a small van arrived and an older man got out and came to speak to us. He was associated in some way with Stockton & Thornaby Angling Club, who (he said) "own both river banks from above Winston all the way down below Gainford" and informed us that we were not allowed to gain access the water from Winston Bridge. There is a public right of way near the water, but since it does not cross the water we have no right to leave the footpath to reach the water! ("And those that say you can are talking shit" apparently!).

Despite hearing of such confrontations (and worse) at Winston Bridge, it was the first time I've experienced it here.

Anyway, the point of this thread is that he then said that the Angling Trust (I think it was) and British Canoeing are in court "in a few weeks" to resolve this issue. Does anyone know anything about such an impending court case?

(We told him that we were just using the place as a meeting point, and were intending getting on at Whorlton and passing through all the way to (probably) Piercebridge, which he didn't seem to have a problem with. In the end, we did get out at Winston, but there was no sign of anyone who might complain!)

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Re: Angling Trust & British Canoeing in Court Soon?

Post by Adrian Cooper » Fri Feb 19, 2016 3:02 pm

Just to talk shit, I think he is wrong and I see no reason for not accessing the water here. The path is clearly demarcated as running along the river bank.

There is a little something here about the argument but I understand the Trust have written to the BCU but not seen any further developments. If they base their case on the legal advice given in this document, the case will be over in short order:

http://www.thebarbelsociety.co.uk/in...-canoe-access/

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Re: Angling Trust & British Canoeing in Court Soon?

Post by davebrads » Fri Feb 19, 2016 3:27 pm

The link goes to a 404 Error page not found
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Re: Angling Trust & British Canoeing in Court Soon?

Post by Strad » Fri Feb 19, 2016 3:40 pm

Old School?? I miss my AQII..
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Re: Angling Trust & British Canoeing in Court Soon?

Post by Adrian Cooper » Fri Feb 19, 2016 3:41 pm

Thanks Strad, you beat me to it; not sure why my first link didn't work.

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Re: Angling Trust & British Canoeing in Court Soon?

Post by Strad » Fri Feb 19, 2016 4:07 pm

No problem Adrian, although, to be honest though the linked article is still just bluster - 'we have confirmed', but still no quotes of case law that set precedent and still no explanation of why the statements EA have made don't match the angling view point. I can't see anything likely to keep me off a river.
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Re: Angling Trust & British Canoeing in Court Soon?

Post by Big Henry » Fri Feb 19, 2016 4:23 pm

Big Henry wrote:(We...were intending getting on at Whorlton and passing through all the way to (probably) Piercebridge, which he didn't seem to have a problem with.
Thanks for the replies so far, but the link to the document just refers to passage along the river, which didn't seem to be an issue for him (they've obviously given up arguing that point for the time being). This is about the areas between any public rights of way and the edge of the water. In essence - how wide is a public right of way/footpath!

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Re: Angling Trust & British Canoeing in Court Soon?

Post by Chris Bolton » Fri Feb 19, 2016 4:57 pm

I think he is probably correct that the footpath along the bank doesn't, strictly, include access to the water, unless there's evidence that the path was historically used to access the river. BCU have been looking for evidence of old fords, where the RoW does go into the water. The law is what it is, not always what we'd like it to be, and while we have good evidence for a RoW along the river itself, we don't so far as I know have a case for bank access in general.

Their QC's advice on access along the river doesn't look very credible to me (I'm not a lawyer) - but if it does go to court, we might all have to chip in for a QC to ensure they don't win because our case isn't put properly.

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Re: Angling Trust & British Canoeing in Court Soon?

Post by twicezero » Fri Feb 19, 2016 5:42 pm

What is trespass from http://www.ramblers.org.uk/advice/right ... y-law.aspx
A person who strays from a right of way, or uses it other than for passing and repassing (see Q1) commits trespass against the landowner.

In most cases, trespass is a civil rather than a criminal matter. A landowner may use “reasonable force” to compel a trespasser to leave, but not more than is reasonably necessary. Unless injury to the property can be proven, a landowner could probably only recover nominal damages by suing for trespass. But of course you might have to meet the landowner’s legal costs. Thus a notice saying “Trespassers will be Prosecuted”, aimed for instance at keeping you off a private drive, is usually meaningless. Criminal prosecution could only arise if you trespass and damage property. However, under public order law, trespassing with an intention to reside may be a criminal offence under some circumstances. It is also a criminal offence to trespass on railway land, sometimes on military training land and on land which has been designated under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act.


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Re: Angling Trust & British Canoeing in Court Soon?

Post by Big Henry » Fri Feb 19, 2016 8:07 pm

Deja vu!
Big Henry wrote:
Big Henry wrote:(We...were intending getting on at Whorlton and passing through all the way to (probably) Piercebridge, which he didn't seem to have a problem with.
Thanks for the replies so far, but the link to the document just refers to passage along the river, which didn't seem to be an issue for him (they've obviously given up arguing that point for the time being). This is about the areas between any public rights of way and the edge of the water. In essence - how wide is a public right of way/footpath!
(But thanks for the effort anyway! :-)
Last edited by Big Henry on Fri Feb 19, 2016 8:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Angling Trust & British Canoeing in Court Soon?

Post by Big Henry » Fri Feb 19, 2016 8:10 pm

Am I correct in remembering that during the Kinder Trespass a technicality was used in that you can walk side by side along a Public Footpath/RoW, and that it doesn't actually state a maximum limit walking side by side? A group of 16 could walk side by side and it is still considered everyone is on the RoW?

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Re: Angling Trust & British Canoeing in Court Soon?

Post by SimonMW » Sat Feb 20, 2016 11:05 am

Henry, you should have asked him if they owned the fishing rights or the actual land itself. Anglers always seem to get confused about the two totally different things!

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Re: Angling Trust & British Canoeing in Court Soon?

Post by Big Henry » Sat Feb 20, 2016 11:57 am

SimonMW wrote:Henry, you should have asked him if they owned the fishing rights or the actual land itself. Anglers always seem to get confused about the two totally different things!
I believe they own both.

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Re: Angling Trust & British Canoeing in Court Soon?

Post by Jim Pullen » Mon Feb 22, 2016 1:09 pm

This raised it's head a few years ago. My memory was that the club only own the rights below the bridge and not above. The landowner on river right downstream once had a very nice conversation with me about how we should get on and enjoy it and ignore the fishermen!

The ROW in question passes next to the river above the bridge on river right (left bank looking upstream from the bridge). It goes right past the lifebouy which is about a metre from the river at normal levels and often floods at higher levels. I don't think it's physically possible for the ROW to be any closer to the water without being in it!
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Re: Angling Trust & British Canoeing in Court Soon?

Post by Jim » Mon Feb 22, 2016 2:16 pm

The idea that riparian public footpaths do not provide legal access to the river has been argued up and down the Tees for over 20 years that I know of, although Raby estate have always allowed access from the public footpath to the upper, just not from the private footpath - but because they could charge for parking at the hotel they didn't like people parking at Wynch bridge and hiking up (which was never really viable as it blocks the road). At one time the landowners at Whorlton used to sit in a range rover most of the day to chase paddlers away telling them they had no right to cross between the footpath and the river.

I do not beleive the line of a footpath from a map is supposed to be taken as definitive, there was a time when militant ROW activists would attempt to walk them exactly as per the map tearing down any obstructions and ignoring diversions etc. - I beleive that landowners are allowed to divert the course of a footpath providing they maintain a through route, and it was always taken for granted that where a footpath ran through a planted field you walked around the field margins and not through the middle of a crop.
The problem is, that a footpath is not provided as a means of access to the water, and despite lobbying of the government 20 odd years ago to try to get access to water included in CROW act they eventually turned round and said that access to water was too complicated to consider at the same time and would have to be dealt with in the future. Was that under John Major? Of course what they really meant was that there are enough pedestrians that they need to do something to placate them, but not enough water users to be worth worrying about, especially when access reform mostly impacts tory benefactors....

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Re: Angling Trust & British Canoeing in Court Soon?

Post by Franky » Mon Feb 22, 2016 6:04 pm

Go to any beauty spot along a river on a warm day in summer and you will see families enjoying themselves on or in the water. Any argument about a footpath next to a river not providing access to the river must therefore, to be fair, also be applied to non-kayaking punters at places like Aysgarth Falls.

Ditto people who have picnics by the side of public footpaths.

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Re: Angling Trust & British Canoeing in Court Soon?

Post by DaveBland » Mon Feb 22, 2016 9:59 pm

The fact that a path follows a river bank does not imply there is access. Especially given that a land-owner can alter the route of a path to suit their needs as Jim talks about.
Having said that, if there is a widely used access point to the river from the footpath, then surely it would follow the same criteria as to what makes a public ROW in the first place – historical use over a set period.
Isn't it the same case as always – get on and off the river at an established public access point and paddle the river knowing you have full access rights. If you choose access / egress points other than that, be prepared to have an argument, knowing that you may be in someone's 'garden', who may get upset.
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Re: Angling Trust & British Canoeing in Court Soon?

Post by Adrian Cooper » Tue Feb 23, 2016 10:30 am

DaveBland wrote: Especially given that a land-owner can alter the route of a path to suit their needs as Jim talks about.
No they can't. They would need permission of the Local Authority to make any change to the route of a public footpath.
I do not believe the line of a footpath from a map is supposed to be taken as definitive, there was a time when militant ROW activists would attempt to walk them exactly as per the map tearing down any obstructions and ignoring diversions etc. - I believe that landowners are allowed to divert the course of a footpath providing they maintain a through route, and it was always taken for granted that where a footpath ran through a planted field you walked around the field margins and not through the middle of a crop.
The local authority will hold the definitive plans indicating the routes. If a footpath goes through the middle of a planted field the farmer will have to comply with codes of practice for re-establishing the path if he digs it up. Witness the Ridgeway National Trail which goes through quite a few fields near me.

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Re: Angling Trust & British Canoeing in Court Soon?

Post by Jim » Tue Feb 23, 2016 12:37 pm

The local authority plans and OS maps might show different routes.

When I was a kid, country people knew that you didn't follow a footpath through the middle of a crop but walked around it (townies might not have had a clue), presumably all the modern focus on legislation means this is no longer the case?
The farmers also never had a problem with us playing in pasture fields, whether or not there was a footpath running through, and whether or not we accessed 'the field' via the footpath, or over the garden wall.
Common sense and tolerance seem to have evaporated altogether in the last 30 years or so :)

The sections of the Ridgeway that I can remember mostly used to follow walls andfences rather than cross the middle of fields - and I'm sure they were all pasture rather than crops - I was a few miles west west of Adrian though. Even back then it was a very well defined path. We used to use a lot of small local footpaths that carried much less traffic and often you would have to stand on one stile and scan the fence/hedge/wall to spot the next stile before deciding which way to go, it made night nav a lot of fun!

Either way, it is still the case that access to water via footpaths or otherwise was specifically excluded from the CROW stuff for England and Wales, so presence of a riparian footpath does not automatically grant access to the river.

But this is all irrelevant - you are doing nothing wrong by simply accessing the river whether you have a right to or not. It is up to the landowner to prove tresspass and bring a civil action for any damages they feel that they have incurred as a result. This can only be done against individuals, there is no way that large bodies can go to court to sort this stuff out, the angling trust cannot get a blanket ban against all BC members from accessing where their members hold riparian rights without first convincing the government to make a law to enable such a thing. Equally, BC cannot get a blanket right for all its members to access rivers without first getting the government to make a law to enable such a thing. Besides which I suspect not all anglers are members of AT, and I know for sure that a lot of boaters are not members of BC so it will never work either way unless the government make a law that includes everyone.

If you break fences and gates, trample crops or disturb livestock you may well end up in court facing civil and possibly criminal damage charges, if you access quietly and carefully without leaving a trace you may well encounter some blow hard who will threaten you with court action, but it is unlikely to ever happen as they have nothing to win by doing so. Mostly you will meet people who are happy to discuss the situation and explain any concerns they have which you can usually agree to accommodate.
Make sure you get over half way to the river before you are challenged - then you can offer to respect their wishes by leaving the land by the nearest route....

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Re: Angling Trust & British Canoeing in Court Soon?

Post by Poke » Tue Feb 23, 2016 1:06 pm

Jim Pullen wrote:This raised it's head a few years ago....
Indeed it did. I've quoted the key bit below.
See here for the rest of the thread: http://www.ukriversguidebook.co.uk/foru ... 19#p646519
Surprised they're still spouting the same cr@p 4 years later!
Poke, in 2012 wrote:Paddled the Tees a couple of weeks ago. Whilst dropping a car at the bottom in the layby on river right, a chap pulled up and indicated to turn into the small track to the house just downstream of the bridge. One of our group opened the gate for him, and he wound down the window to have a chat. It went something along the lines of:

Chap in car: "You see those signs" (pointing at large 'private fishing, no canoeing' signs pinned to a nearby tree)
Jim: "err, yes"
Chap in car: "Well, ignore them. Those fishermen claim that they own the land. They don't. We do. You go ahead and have a fun day kayaking... and, thanks for opening the gate..."
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Re: Angling Trust & British Canoeing in Court Soon?

Post by Paul L » Tue Feb 23, 2016 4:47 pm

Alan,

I think I told you we had a discussion with the same group a few years ago. Wish I had came last week now, I would have given him the same argument I gave the others last time . I listened to them up till the point they tried to shout us down and threaten us. Then I think you can guess how it went.

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Re: Angling Trust & British Canoeing in Court Soon?

Post by Franky » Tue Feb 23, 2016 5:34 pm

Jim wrote: When I was a kid, country people knew that you didn't follow a footpath through the middle of a crop but walked around it (townies might not have had a clue), presumably all the modern focus on legislation means this is no longer the case?
My parents were once on a walking holiday and a farmer asked them why they were walking around the edge of a field when the path led through the middle of it. They explained that they didn't want to damage the crops. The farmer said that less damage was caused by walking through the middle of the field because the total area of trampled crops was less that way.

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Re: Angling Trust & British Canoeing in Court Soon?

Post by Big Henry » Thu Feb 25, 2016 12:34 pm

Paul L wrote:Alan,

I think I told you we had a discussion with the same group a few years ago. Wish I had came last week now, I would have given him the same argument I gave the others last time . I listened to them up till the point they tried to shout us down and threaten us. Then I think you can guess how it went.
There was only one old bloke, not a group, but yours would have been from Stockton & Thornaby Angling Club as well.

Anyone know how to find out who really owns the river bank on the south side of the Tees, just up and down stream from the bridge?

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Re: Angling Trust & British Canoeing in Court Soon?

Post by Poke » Thu Feb 25, 2016 1:54 pm

Big Henry wrote:Anyone know how to find out who really owns the river bank on the south side of the Tees, just up and down stream from the bridge?
Going by my post above, the ownership just downstream will probably be the owners of this house.

If you search the land registry, you should be able to find out who owns the land. Think there's a small fee (£5ish) for this.
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Re: Angling Trust & British Canoeing in Court Soon?

Post by SimonMW » Thu Feb 25, 2016 9:10 pm

Although the land registry only know 30% of landowners. If it was passed down through generations and has never been sold then they won't know.

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Re: Angling Trust & British Canoeing in Court Soon?

Post by Big Henry » Fri Feb 26, 2016 12:09 am

I had a quick look, and for a search that is just for an area of land on a map it costs £30.

I'm considering using the argument "it's Ok, I own the land" so when they say "no you don't" I can tell them that I don't believe they do either until they prove it!

I may also consider using the Stephen Fry defence against bullies (from his short time in prison) "Don't say/do that, you'll just give me an erection and I just won't know what to do with it!" Wonder how they'd react to that.

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