Letter to Dominic Raab 14 October 2022

Rt Hon. Dominic Raab, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA

contact: Cllr Stuart Selleck
email: sselleck@elmbridge.gov.uk

14 October 2022

Dear Dominic

Thank you for your further letter dated 27 September on the subject of Unauthorised Moorings along the River Thames.

We continue to work in partnership with Surrey County Council, Surrey Fire and Rescue, Surrey Police and the Environment Agency to seek a consistent approach to manage and enforce the difficult challenge of unauthorised moorings in Elmbridge. As you are aware, we have been running a pilot at Cigarette Island, Ditton Reach and Albany Reach to enforce no mooring with enforcement signage at these 3 locations since September 2019. This has been going well and has made a large improvement at these sites. However, the powers of the enforcement company has its limitations and they are unable to take any action on unnamed/unregistered boats. Where this has occurred, these boat details have been passed back to the Environment Agency to investigate these registration offences separately. At the same time, District Enforcement will maintain a regular presence and reinforce the message that these boats are trespassing and mooring without consent.

Looking forward, we aim to take a report concerning a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) to the next meeting of the Elmbridge Community and Safety Partnership on 1 December, to consider a number of other matters of community harm especially the risks associated with naked flames, i.e. BBQs, and increased use of our greenspaces and commons. We will explore the idea of a PSPO to cover unauthorised moorings on Elmbridge owned land along the River Thames in Elmbridge at the same time. Following that, we will seek to engage interested groups before formal consultation takes place including Surrey County Council and Spelthorne Borough Council as they too have land ownership adjoining the River Thames in the Elmbridge area.

PSPOs can be resource-intensive to introduce and enforce and there will need to be commitment from partners such as Surrey Police, and the Environment Agency to ensure it can be implemented effectively. We have written to the EA to seek their assurances that if a PSPO was to be introduced for the entire length of the River Thames in Elmbridge, the EA would support this approach and would provide assurance that they have the resources to enforce and monitor this on EA owned land. Elmbridge does not have the resources to patrol the length of the Thames in the Borough and manage land which is in the ownership of the EA or other agencies.

Whilst we have seen a success in reducing the community harm in Walton-on-Thames as a result of the PSPO, we need to ensure that we can give teeth to any other PSPOs introduced. We will therefore explore the idea of delegated authority with the Environment Agency and Surrey Fire and Rescue Service and any other agency who may have land holding affected by unauthorised moorings.

As my colleagues and I have repeatedly stated, it remains our concern that the EA, despite being a Government funded body, is clearly underfunded to be able to carry out its responsibilities along the riverbank, and I would encourage you, as our local MP, to use your powers of persuasion to ensure that the EA is adequately funded to manage the river bank for the wider use and enjoyment of the community.

I hope this clarifies the position, but please do not hesitate to contact me, should you need anything further.

Yours sincerely

Cllr Chris Sadler
Leader, Elmbridge Borough Council

copy of the letter is also available. 

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