What is in this draft PSPO
The draft Waterways PSPO seeks to make life on and around the waterways safer for all. For many people living on the waterways it would have no impact on their lives; they live responsibly and have a strong sense of community spirit. For those using the riverbanks the Order would help to protect the environment and habitat in which people enjoy their pastimes, and provide reassurance to boat dwellers that nuisance behaviour by people using the riverbank will have some redress.
The current draft PSPO for consultation currently includes the following prohibitions.
Mooring without the consent of the owner
The majority of boat dwellers currently moor with the consent of the land owners whose land they have moored alongside. Many pay a mooring fee to stay in a residential mooring.
A small number of people up and down the River Thames do moor in unsuitable locations without permission of the land owner; a matter that can easily be addressed through appropriate signage stating the approved length of stay. For those land owners who do not wish to erect signs the assumption would be that the boats have permission to moor unless the council or police are informed otherwise.
Where there is no registered land owner, for example, large stretches of the River Thames tow path, the managing authority for the public right of way would be able to act in this regard.
Smoke, fumes and noise pollution
A restriction in the draft Order aims to tackle smoke, fumes and noise that is a nuisance to others.
There is no intention to make living on a boat, particularly in the cold winter months, untenable. The intention is to ensure that some respite can be given in situations where there is an unreasonable impact on the neighbouring community.
This may be more suitable for residential areas and areas next to well used community facilities. In those areas, clear signage should be erected and as is the current practice, words of advice given.
Obstruction of a footpath, river bank, canal bank or waterway
Evidence suggests that water courses have been obstructed by moored boats, some of which have fallen into disrepair and sunk.
Storing items in the hedgerows
On some river and canal banks items are stored, or fly-tipped, in hedgerows and on public areas. This can lead to a build-up of waste materials that attracts vermin, and others to fly-tip in the area. Where the landowner has given their consent, the PSPO would not be applied.
Damage to habitats and waterways infrastructure
Graffiti on signage, lifebelts thrown into the river, cutting down tree branches and mooring that damages the riverbank has an impact on the safety of all people using the waterways and river banks..
The whole of Oxford is subject to Dog Control Orders that require dog owners to clear up their dog’s mess, limits the number of dogs a person can be in possession of at any one time to four, and requires owners to put their dog on a lead if asked to do so.
The Council has three years in which to replace these Dog Control Orders with PSPO legislation. The riverbanks are a popular place for dog owners to walk their dogs and therefore it may be considered necessary to implement a PSPO to continue to control dogs in the area.
The whole of Oxford is subject to a Designated Public Places Order (DPPO) that restricts alcohol in public places if it is associated with anti-social behaviour. The alcohol can be opened or unopened and the officer must believe that anti-social behaviour is occurring, or could occur, due to the consumption of alcohol.
The Council has three years in which to replace the DPPO with PSPO legislation. The riverbanks are a popular place to congregate and consume alcohol, and on occasions this has resulted in calls to the police. The legislation does not impact on licensed premises or private property.