Open e-mail to Canal & River Trust

Published: 25 June 2020

Hi Adnan,

I am unhappy in the extreme this morning with CRT and am sending you this open email that I’m going to publish on the RA’s and PC’s websites to let the residents see that we are actually trying to do something about the ASB and traffic issues around the Lakes and that we are trying to goad CRT into some sort of meaningful action.

You are most assuredly aware that there has been a huge escalation of serious ASB, drugs, and traffic issues around the Lakes since the good weather commenced during lockdown. We’ll, it kicked off big time last night and there has been a larger than usual mountain of discontent being directed at the RA and PC this morning from the residents as a consequence.

CRT’s sticking plaster approach just won’t work – not that it was really working before. A tourniquet is now needed – and fast!

For the last three weeks, I have been trying to obtain from CRT your Risk Assessment, or similar, for Earlswood Lakes and surrounds and you, Richard Preston and Tim Booker have all failed even to even acknowledge my emails regarding this. That doesn’t inspire confidence in CRT management, hence this email.

Firstly, I need to update you on a couple of things:

Firstly, the Parish Council and the Residents’ Association have formed a joint Working Party to deal with all the ASB and traffic issues around the Lakes. I am the Chair and will not be contacting the CRT general enquiries email address from now on, I’ll be speaking either directly to you or to Alan Leighton. The CRT general enquiries email responses are a joke, given the current circumstances. This is now too serious just to dispense holding email responses and platitudes!

Secondly, and it can’t have escaped your notice, there are numerous 101 calls made each evening and night to the police and last night the police themselves upgrade the 101 calls to a 999 response.

Why does CRT not see itself as having any meaningful responsibility for the Lakes. These issues would start to subside if CRT had a proper management plan in place. Just as an example, you are currently installing 40 new fishing pontoons in Engine Poll. This 40 does not include the fishing pegs on the reservoir dam wall and, yet, you can only provide 25/26 parking spaces for this and the other two Lakes. You operate the fishing as a commercial activity – you’re very happy to put the fishing receipts in the bank but where are the fishermen, who you charge, going to park after the Wood Lane Car park is full? You are aware of the parking issues around the Lakes e.g. Malt House Lane and Wood Lane. You allow visitors to use the Lakes for walking and other non-business activities but where are they to park? What facilities are you providing? You don’t even manage the small car part in Wood Lane efficiently, thus allowing it to be fully utilised out of hours for all sorts of ASB activities. There are not enough rubbish bins, or they are not large enough, or they are not emptied frequently enough. This gives the (currently correct) impression that nobody cares about the Lakes and anything goes. Where are the toilet facilities for, at the very least, the fishermen who buy day licences? During lockdown, the woods around the Lakes have become open cesspits. Raves were taking place on the beaches when Engine Pool was drained down to enable the old pontoons to be removed and the new ones erected. Tim even witnessed open drug dealing and substance abuse when he visited a couple of weeks ago.

Last night there were about eighty youths disgorging from trains and vehicles to attend some function at the Lakes. As I said above, the trouble last night escalated into a full blown 999 incident with a number of police units attending and the police helicopter in attendance. This may be, so far this summer to date, an extreme event but it’s happening every night and increasing in seriousness and the RA and PC are being flooded with complaints from residents about noise and ASB issues occuring through the night. We have better things to do than try and manage the position round the Lakes, which is all that we seem to be

doing these days. That is your duty and responsibility. Please deal with it now before someone gets seriously injured or worse.

Given CRT’s failure to respond to my previous recent mails, I will be contacting Alan Leighton tomorrow if I haven’t received some form of meaningful reply. You are welcome to forward this to him and his Board of Trustees as you see fit.

I am looking forward to hearing from you timeously.



Ewen Cunningham

Chair, Earlswood PC and RA ASB and Traffic Issues Working Party