Bathampton’s Battle of the Bins: Community Action Saves Crucial Bin Store from Closure

9 May 2024

Cllr Saskia Heijltjes next to the Bathampton Bins store

Thanks to a petition spearheaded by a diverse coalition of local residents, itinerant boaters, long-term mooring holders and supported by the B&NES Greens, Kennet & Avon canal's bin stores have been safeguarded from closure.

The breakthrough comes after a concerning announcement from the Canal and River Trust (CRT) in early March, attributing government budget cuts for the bin’s immediate closure. In response a community action group mobilised, underscoring that this would not only burden the community but also pose significant environmental risks. The group initiated a petition and submitted formal complaints to both the CRT and B&NES council. The CRT complaint was elevated to the Waterways Ombudsman, but hit a deadlock with the council - disputing responsibility.

Saskia Heijltjes, Green councilor for Lambridge, who is connected to boater families through her children’s school, stressed the bins' significance: “The boating community relies on the bins at Bathampton and they pay a license fee to the Canal and River Trust, who are supposed to be providing this basic service to them.

“Boaters have raised issues with the site in Bathampton for a number of years and it is unclear why it took several formal complaints to both parties to spur them into action to resolve this.”

The leader and deputy leader of the council and ward councilors for Bathavon South, including Bathampton were not able to support the boating community by finding a solution to the issues up till now despite numerous warnings of the deteriorating situation.

Amid significant backlash, and a growing petition from the community action group, communications between the CRT and the council improved notably over the last month. In a joint statement, Jonathan Ludford of CRT announced: “We are pleased to have reached an agreement with Bath & North East Somerset Council to keep the bin store open for boaters on the Kennet & Avon Canal.”

Cllr Sam Ross (Clutton & Farmborough), who has 30 years of experience navigating the nation’s waterways said, “The housing crisis means that the canal network now supports many people and families who want to remain local and need a more affordable way of living nearby to places of work and education. Supporting this community should go without saying.

“The lack of access by boaters to the many basic services we have all come to expect is shocking, and removing the waste bins at Bathampton would have been a disaster. I’m glad to hear that both the CRT and B&NES have seen sense in retaining the waste facilities here. I hope this is just the start of a conversation that leads to improved waste facilities in line with our climate emergency priorities.” As the community celebrates this victory, the coalition remains vigilant, ensuring ongoing access to essential services for all.

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