SPC responds to concerns ahead of summer period 2023 - Saltford Parish Council

(Article updated 30 May 2023)

In recent years Saltford Parish Council (SPC) has been contacted by residents and visitors alike regarding concerns about Saltford’s river side areas during the summer months.

SPC has continuously acted where possible to encourage the appropriate authorities to take responsibility, as well as working in partnership with them at times to achieve positive outcomes. In some instances, SPC has funded work on B&NES Council land, and in many cases has requested and/or supported the actions of B&NES Council.

SPC has no powers regarding the majority of concerns raised as these belong to other authorities (for instance, B&NES Council own the public land and is riparian owner of the river bank on the Saltford side). Parish Councils are not permitted to undertake responsibilities belonging to other authorities. Please see the end of this article on how residents can report concerns directly to B&NES Council, Avon & Somerset Police, the Canal River Trust and the Environment Agency.

Members of the public can be assured that the police (Keynsham Beat Team) are aware of the need to regularly visit Saltford’s river side areas during periods of good weather. SPC has been requesting regular visits for several years now and has been informed that Saltford’s river side areas will be regularly monitored. Avon Fire & Rescue teams also plan to visit and engage with people when capacity allows, and SPC will be in contact with the team again about this. SPC’s also been in contact with B&NES Council’s Parking Enforcement team, who also visit Saltford’s river side areas frequently. Please see below for further information about SPC’s actions working with these authorities.

SPC action: Green amenity space around car park protected from vehicle parking

In March 2023 work began on placing wooden bollards around the car park and green space, in an area which in the summer months can be entirely covered in parked vehicles though prohibited. Not only did parking on the grass this remove green amenity space from appropriate public use and enjoyment, but created safety issues for those sitting or playing on the grass. The work to protect the grass area by the car park has been paid for by SPC using CIL funds, with thanks to B&NES Councillors for their support and the B&NES Council Parks and Green Spaces team for arranging their contractor to carry out the works.

For more information please see SPC’s article ‘SPC responds to calls for safety measures at green amenity space’ at https://www.saltfordparishcouncil.gov.uk/spc-responds-to-calls-for-safety-measures-at-green-amenity-space/

Bollards protecting picnic space – vehicles often parked here in summer months, the bollards mean children can now play here more safely.

SPC action: Environmental actions to prevent bank erosion and damage to vegetation

In a joint project between SPC and B&NES Council – and with the help of local residents – shrubs and trees were planted on The Shallows near the Brass Mill in March 2023. Planting at this location has been a project SPC has been looking to achieve since it installed the large wooden bollards in autumn 2020. These large bollards were placed by the river to help restore vegetation and protect the riverbank from further damage. SPC hopes the recent planting will support wildlife, plus prevent further erosion of the river bank and damage to vegetation which has suffered from destruction in recent years by those ‘pushing through’ to access the river. A temporary chestnut paling fence has been installed by B&NES Council to protect the new trees and shrubs whilst they become established, and SPC will display small signs to indicate the reason for the temporary fence soon.

Please see our article ‘Re-wilding our riverbank – Eighty trees and shrubs planted in Saltford’ at https://www.saltfordparishcouncil.gov.uk/re-wilding-our-riverbank-eighty-trees-and-shrubs-planted-in-saltford/

Over 80 trees and shrubs were planted in one morning

SPC action: Bridge jumping from the Bristol to Bath Path to be addressed

For several years SPC has been urging B&NES Council to take safety measures to prevent people jumping from B&NES Council’s LMS bridge (on the Bristol to Bath Path) due to safety concerns. In 2022 SPC achieved safety signage on the bridge as installed by B&NES Council. It continued to push for safety actions at the bridge, and in March 2023 SPC was please to receive news from B&NES Council that further signage would be put in place in the next two months (i.e. before summer 2023) along with other measures if suitable e.g. anti-climb paint. In late May, SPC was pleased to be informed that this had taken place. SPC is also pleased to hear that these measures would be monitored by B&NES Council going forward, and has highlighted to B&NES Council again that measures to prevent jumping from the top of the bridge should also be under consideration. SPC has received many concerns about bridge jumping over the years and is aware that an unconscious person was pulled from the river by residents following jumping from the bridge last year. This is further to the tragic statistic that someone dies in the river at Saltford on average every two years. Actions by B&NES Council to prevent jumping will no doubt improve safety both for those on the bridge and those on boats, paddleboards and kayaks beneath.

An article about SPC’s water safety actions including LMS bridge signage can be found at https://www.saltfordparishcouncil.gov.uk/our-village/saltford-weir/spcs-water-safety-actions/

Safety signs on the LMS bridge as requested by SPC

SPC action: SPC requests better management of The Shallows car park by B&NES

Following SPC’s formal request to B&NES Council for the better management of the B&NES Council’s The Shallows car park in July 2021, with the support of B&NES Councillors, seasonal parking charges were introduced in November 2022 with a three hour maximum parking periods permitted. The introduction of a maximum parking period will help aid turnover for those looking to park in the busier summer months, as well as prevent those who left vehicles in the car park for long periods blocking the spaces from being used by others. In autumn 2022, SPC requested B&NES Council repaint the parking bays at The Shallows car park to encourage safer parking at this location, and was pleased to see B&NES Council take action soon after. Another issue SPC has asked B&NES Council to address was businesses using the car park which prevented residents and visitors parking. B&NES has confirmed to SPC that business parking is not permitted by those operating business activity on The Shallows, including at or near the river, and those using the car park for any business purposes will be fined.

SPC’s request to B&NES Council for better management of The Shallows car park is mentioned in its news article ‘New seasonal charges at The Shallows car park – B&NES Council public consultation’ at https://www.saltfordparishcouncil.gov.uk/new-seasonal-charges-at-the-shallows-car-park-bnes-council-public-consultation/ and the follow up article ‘New seasonal parking charges at The Shallows car park’ at https://www.saltfordparishcouncil.gov.uk/new-seasonal-parking-charges-at-the-shallows-car-park/

B&NES Council ‘The Shallows Car Park’ sign detailing seasonal charges.

SPC action: SPC thanks those who have litter picked, especially following flooding

Like many residents, SPC was saddened by the huge amount of litter on the riverbank and its vegetation following the floods in January. Since then, SPC’s publicly thanked litter pickers who – both by boat and on foot – have collected waste for B&NES Council teams to come and collect. SPC welcomes the recent news about the formation of the ‘Saltford River Wombats’ as supported by the Saltford Wombles, a volunteer group specifically focussing on addressing litter issues by boat. SPC will again request B&NES Council add large bins by the river side area in summer months to help with the large volumes of waste. SPC appreciates all the work of the Saltford Wombles and other individuals who litter pick in Saltford, especially during the busier summer months when litter increases causing risk to wildlife and the environment. Residents can report full bins or excessive litter on public land to B&NES Council at https://fix.bathnes.gov.uk/ SPC will continue to remind those coming to river side areas to follow the Countryside Code and ‘leave no trace’ by putting their litter in the bin or using one of the many B&NES gold bags in Saltford left out by the Wombles – or better, taking it home.

Please see our news article ‘Community acts together to clean up Saltford’ which was also a press release and published in many local papers including the Keynsham Voice and The Week In https://www.saltfordparishcouncil.gov.uk/community-acts-together-to-clean-up-saltford/.

Image from 2020 showing the litter collected by the Saltford Wombles from by the river. SPC’s since requested large bins and more frequent bin emptying by B&NES Council especially during the busier summer months

SPC action: SPC requests B&NES Council take responsibility for a safer, cleaner river (including the river bank)

In February 2023 SPC approached B&NES Council to take responsibility for a safer, cleaner river. This included a request to address the issues of abandoned/sunken boats and hazardous waste from storm drains. SPC’s request to B&NES Council made front page news in The Week In, and generated much public interest and support. SPC was pleased to note that the dilapidated boat and sunken boat on The Shallows were removed soon after it sent its open letter to B&NES Council. Another sunken boat on Mead Lane will also be removed by B&NES Council in due course. Wessex Water was copied into SPC’s letter, and the company quickly arranged contractors to remove the storm drain waste from Saltford’s river banks both by foot and via boat. SPC has since been invited to meet with B&NES Council’s representative on the WaterSpace Partnership to discuss its requests further, and a meeting took place in May 2023 (following elections). Outcomes will be shared in due course, but include requesting information about storm drains, how residents can report abandoned/sunken boats, and a request for police support to address anti-social behaviours on the river. Please keep an eye on SPC’s minutes for any future updates.

For a copy of the letter sent in February 2023 please see SPC’s news article ‘SPC requests B&NES Council take responsibility for a safer, cleaner river’ at https://www.saltfordparishcouncil.gov.uk/spc-requests-bnes-council-takes-responsibility-for-a-safer-cleaner-river-inc-river-bank/

Dilapidated and sunken boats on the river in Saltford following the January floods

SPC action: Water safety campaign working with Avon Fire & Rescue

In 2022 SPC engaged with Avon Fire and Rescue to launch a water safety campaign both online and through posters displayed around the village. SPC appreciates the help of local businesses who have displayed these key messages on-site, including ‘Float to Live’ and ‘Hidden dangers’. SPC also appreciates Avon Fire and Rescue’s visits to Saltford’s riverside areas (when they have capacity to do so) during the summer months. SPC particularly welcomes the visits to Saltford in the summer by the local Hicks Gate team, where fire officers interact with those enjoying river side areas and remind people about safe behaviours by open water as well as the dangers of drinking alcohol and entering the river. SPC has also requested educational visits to local schools about water safety by Avon Fire & Rescue, and thanks the team for visiting local schools. SPC will again encourage local businesses to display posters from the campaign in 2023, as well as displaying information in its noticeboard. SPC will continue to share waster safety information via its social media channels too.

More information about SPC’s work with Avon Fire & Rescue on this campaign, and SPC’s other water safety measures, can be found on our webpage ‘SPC’s river safety actions’ at https://www.saltfordparishcouncil.gov.uk/our-village/saltford-weir/spcs-water-safety-actions/. SPC’s river safety information and advice can be found on our website at https://www.saltfordparishcouncil.gov.uk/our-village/saltford-weir/water-safety-information-and-advice/

‘Float to Live’ and ‘Hidden Dangers’ from SPC and Avon Fire & Rescue’s water safety campaign, as displayed by the river by a local pub

SPC action: Repainting of double yellow lines on the highway

In 2021 SPC requested double yellow lines on the highway plus resident parking bays to ensure safe access for vehicles (including larger emergency vehicles) and to help residents who live near the river to be able to park near their homes. Following a public consultation by B&NES Council (the Highways Authority) in 2021 parking restrictions were installed on most of Mead Lane and The Shallows. The need was identified following scenes of regular grid lock on the highway due to inappropriate parking on narrow historic roads, leading in some instances to the police having to close the road for safety reasons. Since installation in 2021 some of the double yellow lines have faded or been damaged, leading again to dangerous parking. In autumn 2022 SPC requested that B&NES Council visit the area and repaint sections required. SPC is please to report this was carried out by B&NES Council in January 2023. If residents note faded or damaged road markings please report to B&NES Council via https://fix.bathnes.gov.uk/

To find out more about SPC’s original request to B&NES Council for permanent measures to aid safety at this location due to dangerous parking please see our ‘Permanent new parking measures on The Shallows and Mead Lane’ 2021 news article at https://www.saltfordparishcouncil.gov.uk/permanent-new-parking-measures-on-the-shallows-and-mead-lane/

Repainted double yellow lines on The Shallows carried out in January 2023

SPC action: Meeting with B&NES Council’s Head of Parking & Keynsham Beat Team

B&NES Councillors facilitated a meeting with the Head of B&NES Council’s Head of Parking in January 2023, which gave SPC the opportunity to discuss local concerns and to request more frequent visits to Saltford during periods of good weather. Following the meeting, SPC arranged contact between the B&NES Head of Parking and a Police Officer from the Keynsham Beat Team who says he will accompany B&NES Parking Enforcement Officers during visits to river side areas in the summer to support them in their duties. SPC also raised resident concerns about anti-social behaviours with the Keynsham Beat Team when it hosted Saltford’s ‘Meet Your Community Police Officer’ event last autumn. Anti-social behaviour can be reported to the police online, via 101 (non-emergency number), or in an emergency on 999.

More information about SPC’s ‘Meet Your Community Police Officer 2022’ hosted by Saltford Parish Council’ news article at https://www.saltfordparishcouncil.gov.uk/meet-your-community-police-officer-2022-hosted-by-saltford-parish-council/

B&NES Parking Enforcement officers on The Shallows – regular visits will take place in 2023 especially during periods of good weather

SPC action: Local River Side Working Group set up by SPC

To discuss and move forward several of the above actions, SPC set up the Saltford Local River Side Working Group in autumn 2023. The working group – made up of SPC and B&NES Councillors – has made recommendations to Full Council, including most recently recommending the installation of wooden bollards to protect the green amenity space near The Shallows car park. Members have also approached the landowner of the fields on the opposite side of the river to urge better management of the space due to its use often causing a detrimental impact on Saltford’s residents (visitors to the field access the via Saltford). The Local River Side Working Group has also requested the B&NES Council Public Rights of Way (PROW) team better protect the PROW routes at this location, which are often inaccessible due to heavy use in the summer months. If residents have concerns about this please contact the B&NES Council PROW Team on 01225 477532 or via email at prow@bathnes.gov.uk with further details available at https://www.bathnes.gov.uk/services/streets-and-highway-maintenance/public-rights-way. The Local River Side Working Group will meet again following the May 2023 elections, likely in June 2023.

Previous actions and activity by SPC in 2021 & 2022

The above actions build on SPC’s work from previous years. For more information about 2022 actions ahead of the summer season please see ‘SPC requests B&NES Council, Avon Fire & Rescue and Police support ahead of busy summer months’ at https://www.saltfordparishcouncil.gov.uk/spc-requests-bnes-council-avon-fire-rescue-and-police-support-ahead-of-busy-summer-months/.

Parking all over the green amenity space near The Shallows car park was a common issue on good weather days. Action has now been taken to prevent similar scenes in 2023

Please also find out more about 2021 actions in SPC’s article ‘Police presence and parking enforcement update for spring summer 2021’at https://www.saltfordparishcouncil.gov.uk/police-presence-and-parking-enforcement-update-for-spring-summer-2021/

Scenes of gridlock and police road closures occurred in summer 2021. Actions taken since have decreased incidents like these.

Message from SPC ahead of summer 2023

SPC hopes that these many positive incremental changes taken or requested by SPC in the past year will help improve matters (including safety and the natural environment) in Saltford’s river side areas for members of the public.

SPC thanks residents and visitors for raising concerns and reporting issues to the appropriate authorities, and encourages this during the summer months ahead if required.

SPC recognises that the full benefit of some of the actions above may take longer to become apparent, but hopes that some improvements will be felt during summer 2023 by all who live or come to enjoy the area.

SPC would like to thank the support of other authorities to achieve a safer and better environment by the river, namely B&NES Council and Avon and Somerset Police.

How to report issues and concerns to the appropriate authorities

As in previous years, residents are encouraged to raise issues as appropriate directly to B&NES Council and the police. Please refer to SPC’s Report It page which details how residents can report to the correct authority.

For resident information, noise nuisance can be reported to B&NES Council’s Environmental Protection Team, please see information on the B&NES website under ‘Noise Nuisance – Contact Us’ and there is more general information on the B&NES Council ‘Noise Nuisance’ page here. Excessive littering can be reported via https://fix.bathnes.gov.uk/.

SPC understands anti-social behaviour associated with high visitor numbers can be a concern. To raise awareness of concerns with the police, please contact the Keynsham Beat Team, or the police on their non-emergency number of 101, and in an emergency call 999.

SPC is not responsible for activity or issues on the river, nor water quality concerns. Please see the Report It page and view the ‘Environment Agency’ and ‘Canal River Trust’ sections. Please note life guards do not operate in Saltford, and that the river can get congested. SPC is aware that water quality is a concern with reports of user sickness common. This is not a Parish Council responsibility though SPC aims to raise awareness of river water quality concerns.

Please note that Parish Councils are not permitted to act in areas that are the responsibility of other authorities (e.g. B&NES Council or the police), however residents are welcome to copy in any emails to Saltford Parish Council for Parish Councillor’s awareness. Further to this, please note that Parish Councillors give their time to the community voluntarily, supported by a part-time Parish Clerk (the only member of SPC staff); it is appreciated that residents report to the appropriate authority directly copying in SPC if required for Councillors awareness of concerns/issues.

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