At the end of last week, Robin Meltzer welcomed Dan Rogerson MP, Liberal Democrat Minister with the responsibility for the Environment Agency, to Ham and North Kingston to meet local residents affected by the problem of illegal boat moorings on the Thames.
Robin said: "The Thames should be for all people, not turned into a marina for multi-millionaires."
"But nor should there be tolerance of those who treat the river as a dumping ground by mooring illegally. I want to see regulated, lower cost moorings for law-abiding people to be able to afford to enjoy the river in an environmentally responsible way."
"The boats that are of concern are the ones which moor illegally, and dump waste over board. We have seen some really disgusting environmental degradation as a result of this anti-social behaviour."
Last Autumn, Robin Meltzer organised an open meeting for local residents (at the Hawker Centre) to discuss the problem. At the suggestion of the former leader of Richmond Council, Sir David Williams, it was decided that a group of residents should set up a single-issue action group to pull together all the various agencies who needed to take action. The group is called Reclaim Our Riverside.
Robin wrote to Dan Rogerson MP to let him know about the new residents' group, and to ask for action to be taken, in particular on the issue of illegal waste disposal. Dan replied, and asked the Environment Agency to visit the site and issue enforcement notices on the offending boats, which they did last week. Dan visited the next day.
Dan Rogerson MP said:
"I would like to thank the Reclaim Our Riverside group for their leadership. In October, Robin Meltzer met with me and pushed for action to be taken by the Environment Agency to solve some of the most pressing problems that have been caused by illegal boat moorings in this area. I then requested that the Environment Agency take action."
"Having now met local residents from both Richmond and Kingston, I understand how much of a stressful situation this has been for those living closest to the river. It is clear that we need more than stop-gap solutions. We must deal with the anti-social behaviour and environmental damage but we also need to turn the river into something which can be enjoyed by all responsible people."