Call to step up action over illegal angling
RESIDENTS and dog-walkers are demanding more action be taken against anglers illegally using the Wiltshire and Berkshire Canal.
Problems came to a head last month when a dog was seriously hurt after swallowing a fishing hook on the footpath close to Kingshill.
Douglas Love’s three-year-old chocolate labrador, Bella, was on a lead when she went to eat a piece of bread on the ground, not seeing the barbed hook underneath.
It become lodged in her oesophagus and major surgery was required to remove it.
Bella is well on the way to a full recovery but Douglas, 35, is facing a vets bill of almost £4,700.
He has complained to various authorities, but has been left frustrated by his lack of progress.
The restaurant manager said: “We have complained, but the issue keeps getting passed from pillar to post and no-one seems willing to take responsibility.
“Quite a few of the other residents have also spoken out against the issue, but for every person in favour of more action being taken there seems to be five people against it.”
Swindon Council owns the canal and adjacent path, so has responsibility for monitoring and take action against illegal fishing.
After contacting the council soon after the incident, Douglas said still nothing had been done: “Things are still exactly the same as they were when Bella first got hurt. We now take her elsewhere to walk.
“The council have put up signs, but other than that they have not done anything. The only thing they will say is that they lack the resources to police it and are working with other agencies to deal with the problem, but nothing has improved.
“It is still a dump down there, with litter discarded from fishermen.”
Coun Nadine Watts (Lad, Old Town) is looking to bring the issue up with relevant bodies.
She said: “Illegal fishing on the canal is something that really is concerning residents in the Kingshill and Okus area.
“I plan to bring this issue to the next South Swindon Locality Meeting, where council officers and other public sector agencies like the police are present and try to thrash out a way of addressing this issue.
“I understand that the council have taken some action to try and dispel illegal fishing, including putting up signs, and that they work with other external agencies, but clearly this hasn’t been enough to stop this issue completely and that is the next step.
”I would encourage all concerned residents to attend the locality meeting, so they can participate in the solution to this issue.”
The next South Swindon Locality Meeting is on October 16, at Croft Leisure Centre (see right).
A Council spokesman said: “We simply do not have the resources to carry out regular patrols of the canal. However, the Environment Agency do and their fisheries bailiff can issue formal warnings, which can lead to prosecution.
“We will be removing some of the fish over the next few months, which we hope will have an impact on the illegal fishing taking place.”
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