Ceasefire ordered over canal dispute

Post erected for the fence next to the boats
Post erected for the fence next to the boats

A ceasefire has been ordered in a boundary dispute between a landowner and several canal boat sailors moored at Slapton.

It is a dispute which has turned bitter – with police attending the scene by the Grand Union Canal last week.

On Thursday, builders halted work on a fence being erected one-and-a-half metres from the edge of the canal, after boaters protested.

The fence was erected by Bury Farm Equestrian Village. Owner Alan Dugard said: “There is no dispute, we actually own the land up to the bank side.

“It’s a discussion with the Canal and River Trust. Our legal right shows we own the land right up to the edge. The Land Registry deed shows the land as part of Bury Farm, as part of our arrangement with Canal and River Trust we offer one-and-a-half metres.”

Mr Dugard said the company “gifted” one-and-a-half metres to Canal and River Trust and began construction at the point.

Boater Andrew Bone arrived at the Slapton mooring last week, just as the dispute was in full swing.

Mr Bone said: “Some of the boats have been here for years. When I arrived here it became obvious that the landowner was claiming he owned the land right up to the water.

“He started to erect a fence one-and-a-half metres from the end of the canal.”

On Thursday, as posts were being set up for the fence, one of the boaters called police. Mr Bone stated a PCSO arrived at the scene and allegedly gave a cease and desist notice to stop construction.

The boaters claim the land by the canal is owned by the Canal and River Trust – who have told the LBO they are investigating.

As the dispute affects their mooring site at Slapton, the Trust has asked Bury Farm to take no further action until it has been resolved.

Vicky Martin, from the Trust, added: “I want to reassure boaters affected by this dispute that we are working to resolve this issue as quickly as possible and that matters have been referred to our legal team for advice’.’

A Thames Valley Police spokesman said: “We were called at 12.59pm on July 21 to a dispute over land boundaries. Officers attended the scene and spoke to both parties. This is a civil matter and therefore not something we can comment on further.”