Problems on the River Avon

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Gordon A
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Problems on the River Avon

Post by Gordon A » Sun Nov 08, 2009 6:48 pm

River Avon Salisbury - Downton.
Hi a group of 4 paddled this today, as we approached Longford Castle we were first approched be a female, who said she worked for the estate and we were not allowed to canoe the river, I informed her I didn't believe she had the right to prohibit kayaking, she informed us she was on the phone & we would be stopped further on. Sure enough a little further on some chap in a fluorescent jacket stopped us. He statead he was a police officer (showed a card that did indeed look like a warrant card) told us we were tresspassing and ordered us off the river. I happily offered to discus matters with him at a police station, but as I believed we were not tresspassing we would carry on. A little further on said police officer and another chap were waiting on the river bank, this time the chap with him walked to the river bank and said words to the effect "Next time you come me and my friends with our dogs will be waiting for you, and we'll sort you out." At that point I switched on my camera to movie mode ( I know hindsight is wonderful). The supposed policeman assured us his colleageus would be waiting for us at downton( I assume he meant Police Officers) . We finished without incident or the boys in blue. I'll pop into my local nick tomorrow and report the threat. Anyone paddling the Avon between Salisbury and Christchurch should be aware the Lord of the manor isn't keen on us kayakers.

Cheers Gordon

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Mark R
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Re: Problems on the River Avon

Post by Mark R » Sun Nov 08, 2009 6:51 pm

Gordon A wrote:I'll pop into my local nick tomorrow and report the threat.
Good!

It astonishes me how many people report intimidation, obstruction and abuse here, but won't report it officially.
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soundoftheseagull
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Re: Problems on the River Avon

Post by soundoftheseagull » Sun Nov 08, 2009 7:00 pm

Impersonation of a Police Officer is an offence might be worth reporting it
http://www.wikicrimeline.co.uk/index.ph ... ce_officer
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MikeB
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Re: Problems on the River Avon

Post by MikeB » Sun Nov 08, 2009 7:04 pm

Not being a criminal offence of course, trespass isn't something a Police Officer would have any jurisdiction over.

I do hope you report this both as harrassement and possibly impersonation of a PO.

Mike.

Gordon A
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Re: Problems on the River Avon

Post by Gordon A » Sun Nov 08, 2009 7:09 pm

As said I'll pop into the local nick, they can recommend any further action, I would not get off the river, and I'm not prepared to be intimidated (next time a few chunky paddling partners would be appreciated). I don't know yet whether he was a police officer.

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Re: Problems on the River Avon

Post by chriscw » Mon Nov 09, 2009 12:41 am

I have always fancied paddling on the Avon but never really had a clue access or egress points.
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Re: Problems on the River Avon

Post by Gordon A » Mon Nov 09, 2009 7:53 am

Google River Avon Blog, by Rollalot, that will help.

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Re: Problems on the River Avon

Post by Whitey1 » Mon Nov 09, 2009 8:06 am

You handled this brilliantly. He possibly was a policeman but in those parts of the world they are often at beck and call of local landowners and may just have been trying to scare you away hoping caution re trespassing was enough. Sounds like this was the case. On the other hand if he was implicated in subsequent threat then he is putting his career on the line.

If you have any footage or even stills of chap with dogs you can report him and it should be considered at least a Section 5 Public Disorder Offence. If the threat is immediate it is clearly a Section 4 P O Offence which is much more serious and an imprisonable offence. His senior officer will take this very seriously and if he doesn't then you should possibly advise him you will be seeking legal advice, possibly the Crown Prosecution Service would be interested in a policeman behaving in such a manner.

Really well done though mate. Much respect. I have friends who live downstream in Breamore, next time I visit I might try and persuade them on a river trip.

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Adrian Cooper
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Re: Problems on the River Avon

Post by Adrian Cooper » Mon Nov 09, 2009 10:28 am

You'll be referring to the River Avon which is a public navigation then.


Gordon A
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Re: Problems on the River Avon

Post by Gordon A » Mon Nov 09, 2009 11:02 am

The matter is firmly in the hands of the police, when there is more information I'll update. Re the river Avon having access from Salisbury to the sea, I hope we'll find out, I rather enjoy paddling my local river.

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Re: Problems on the River Avon

Post by Pat R » Mon Nov 09, 2009 11:15 am

Adrian
You'll be referring to the River Avon which is a public navigation then.
The Warwickshire Avon is a public navigation but I don't think that the Hampshire Avon is.

Pat

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Re: Problems on the River Avon

Post by Adrian Cooper » Mon Nov 09, 2009 11:26 am

Pat R wrote:
You'll be referring to the River Avon which is a public navigation then.
The Warwickshire Avon is a public navigation but I don't think that the Hampshire Avon is.
By Statute Charles II

http://www.canoeist.co.uk/wps/jun07/hq/page22.pdf

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Re: Problems on the River Avon

Post by Pat R » Mon Nov 09, 2009 11:37 am

Adrian Cooper wrote:
Pat R wrote:
You'll be referring to the River Avon which is a public navigation then.
The Warwickshire Avon is a public navigation but I don't think that the Hampshire Avon is.
By Statute Charles II

http://www.canoeist.co.uk/wps/jun07/hq/page22.pdf
I stand corrected!

Pat

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Graham Bland
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Re: Problems on the River Avon

Post by Graham Bland » Mon Nov 09, 2009 1:04 pm

Hi Gordon
Gordon wrote
I'm not prepared to be intimidated
I would have thought that the 4 of you would have been more than a match for most :-)
Great job well handled - keep me posted with the outcome of this please.
Graham

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Re: Problems on the River Avon

Post by Gordon A » Tue Nov 10, 2009 2:18 pm

Hi All

I've just returned from the local nick, the position is:- 1) The Police officer who attended will take no further action.(I wish Joe public could effect such a swift
response for a serious crime, privilege of rank?)
2) The gentleman who I alledge threatened me, will not threaten anyone.
3) The position of Longford estates is they control access to thier stretch of the Avon.
Sorry no legal revelations, the police were advised by the EA re river access, however they are unlikely to take action on simple trespass.

Although Rev Caffyn states there is a right of navigation from Salisbury to the sea, the Environment Agency apparently disagree.

cheers Gordon

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ChrisS
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Re: Problems on the River Avon

Post by ChrisS » Tue Nov 10, 2009 5:13 pm

Well done Gordon!

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Re: Problems on the River Avon

Post by ChrisS » Tue Nov 10, 2009 6:39 pm

The Sussex Ouse is another river with a Navigation Act that has never been repealed. Riparians and fisherfolk dispute the public right of navigation there too.

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Re: Problems on the River Avon

Post by Gordon A » Tue Nov 10, 2009 6:50 pm

Cheers Chris, unfortunately the FO weren't there and the Army had to apply diplomacy. See the fun you miss.

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Re: Problems on the River Avon

Post by Adrian Cooper » Tue Nov 10, 2009 6:51 pm

Gordon A wrote: Although Rev Caffyn states there is a right of navigation from Salisbury to the sea, the Environment Agency apparently disagree.
It would be correct for them to provide a detailed argument for their standpoint at least as comprehensive as Rev Caffyn's, as sufficient rebuttle. Simple to say they don't agree is entirely unsatisfactory and unprofessional for a government body.

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ChrisS
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Re: Problems on the River Avon

Post by ChrisS » Tue Nov 10, 2009 6:59 pm

When I worked in government we always used to say something like "This guidance is not an authoritative interpretation of the law - that is exclusively a matter for the courts."

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Re: Problems on the River Avon

Post by Mark R » Tue Nov 10, 2009 7:01 pm

Gordon A wrote:The Police officer who attended will take no further action.
... and was there any comment regarding his actions/attitudes?
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Sharpen
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Re: Problems on the River Avon

Post by Sharpen » Tue Nov 10, 2009 7:19 pm

ChrisS wrote:When I worked in government we always used to say something like "This guidance is not an authoritative interpretation of the law - that is exclusively a matter for the courts."
I suspect that this is right. It would, however, be interesting to ask the EA what their legal advice is based on. Now that we are "in the clear", I will ask them the question.

As for it being a matter for the courts, I cannot see that it will ever get to court. The landowners may be full of hot air and bravado to us when we are on the water, but if they were to try and seek an injunction to prevent us paddling that stretch, the court may have to decide on whether the Statute is still good law, and if the findings go against them, then the reduction in value of their fishing rights would be massive.

Instead, I suspect that they will follow their existing policy of harrassing us, with the aim of making the trip so unpleasant that we will not bother. I was with Gordon on Sunday, and did not enjoy the confrontation - it spoiled the day.


Nigel

Gordon A
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Re: Problems on the River Avon

Post by Gordon A » Tue Nov 10, 2009 7:38 pm

Mark

Although the police officer initially ordered us off the river, when I stated my belief I had a right to paddle, and quoted Caffyn, he allowed us to proceed and took no further action, I was assured that the matter of possible threats would not reoccur and estate staff had been advised on their behaviour to canoeists. Only time will tell how well that is digested. I felt I had been listened to and although not fully satisfied , I thought I'd probably got as much as I could. For future trips I'd recommend sufficient camera's to ensure correct reporting of our actions.

cheers Gordon

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Re: Problems on the River Avon

Post by Whitey1 » Tue Nov 10, 2009 7:46 pm

Shame it spoiled your day Nigel but your group's dealing with the situation was textbook, and a clear template for others to follow when faced with similar intimidation. I suspect said policeman, estate manager (or whatever she was) and the 'heavy hand' with the dogs are feeling pretty sheepish now and so they should be. We owe you our thanks.

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Re: Problems on the River Avon

Post by Sharpen » Tue Nov 10, 2009 8:36 pm

This is the text of an email that I have just sent to the Environment Agency - I look forward to their reply and will keep you informed. Their automatic reply is that I should expect a response within 10 days.

"Dear Sirs,

I understand that your Agency has recently advised the Wiltshire Police that you consider that there is no right of navigation by kayaks / canoes or other craft between Salisbury to Downton and beyond to Mudeford on the River Avon. This advice was supplied following an incident between a number of canoeists (myself included) and the police on the 8 November 2009 at Longford Castle.

My claim to the right to navigate the above stretch of river is based on the following link: http://www.canoeist.co.uk/wps/jun07/hq/page22.pdf

Please would you confirm the following;

(1) Is there a legal right of navigation between Salisbury and the sea along the River Avon?
(2) If the answer to (1) above is that there is no right of navigation, on what basis do you consider that there is no legal right of navigation?
(3) If your answer to (1) above is that there is a legal right of navigation, on what basis do you give your answer?
(4) Have you taken legal advice before giving your answer and did it consider the opinion outlined in the link above?
(5) If you took legal advice, I would be grateful if you could provide a copy of this to me.

Within the canoeing community, there is some consdierable interest in the outcome of these questions and so I look forward to your response.

Yours faithfully,"

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Re: Problems on the River Avon

Post by Gordon A » Tue Nov 10, 2009 8:44 pm

Way to go Nigel, I'll handle the stroppy bailiff, you get to mug the pen pushers.

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Re: Problems on the River Avon

Post by canoepaddler » Tue Nov 10, 2009 8:50 pm

This is not something the EA has any jurisdiction over. Unless you were breaking fisheries law, depositing waste or abstracting or discharging to water they should have not become involved. I sugest you make a formal complaint to the Area or even Regional manager. It'll p*ss a few people off but there are still some folks at the EA who don't know what is and isn't their business.

The only connection would be an obligation to promote recreation on and near water!

Chris

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Simon
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Re: Problems on the River Avon

Post by Simon » Tue Nov 10, 2009 9:17 pm

canoepaddler wrote:This is not something the EA has any jurisdiction over. Unless you were breaking fisheries law, depositing waste or abstracting or discharging to water they should have not become involved. I sugest you make a formal complaint to the Area or even Regional manager. It'll p*ss a few people off but there are still some folks at the EA who don't know what is and isn't their business.

The only connection would be an obligation to promote recreation on and near water!

Chris
Chris. I disagre that this is something the EA has no jurisdiction over. The "obligation" (in fact statutory duty imposed by parliament) to promote recreation gives them specific responsibilities in this area which we should not let them forget.

Have a look at the EA's Recreation Strategy http://publications.environment-agency. ... EW-e-e.pdf

The EA has specific duties to promote recreation and access to water.

I quote

"We have a statutory duty to promote recreation on or
near inland and coastal waters
, make the best use of
the sites we own for recreation and access
and take
amenity and access into consideration in all of our
work" (page 8)


"Our Objectives
Over the next five years, there are four main areas
where we can make a real difference to the quality
of people’s lives through creating opportunities for
recreation on or near our inland and coastal waters:
1. Creating a better place to play by improving
the environment
2. Improving access for all
3. Making recreation sustainable
4. Promoting the outdoors" (Page 10)


"To improve access to water and its surroundings
we will:
• Support Defra in achieving its five-year strategy
targets on access.
• SupportWelsh Assembly Government in delivering
its access targets in the Environment Strategy.
• Support Government in implementing the
Countryside and Rights ofWay (CRoW) Act.
Make our land and rivers more accessible
wherever we can.

• Increase access and participation for angling
and boating.
• Work with others to increase recreational
opportunities accessible to all." Page 12


I accept that many EA officers are fishermen and tend to favour the fishing fraternity, but if they were so biased towards the angling community that they unreasonably failed to act on the EA's statutory duty to promote recreation and access for canoeists, or even worse if they used their powers to actively impede reasonable canoeing access, then surely that would be justified grounds for a formal complaint.

Simon

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Simon
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Re: Problems on the River Avon

Post by Simon » Tue Nov 10, 2009 9:47 pm

Incidentally,

I have recently moved to Salisbury and would love to get in touch with people who do a bit of canoe/kayak touring locally - such as the Avon. It has always looked to be a lovely river to paddle.

please PM me or via my website www.simondawson.com

Simon

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