KAYAKERS and paddleboarders using the Exeter Ship Canal have been pelted with mud and stones.

Exeter City Council staff are now working with police to clamp down on anti-social behaviour around the canal.

In a report to a forthcoming meeting of the city council’s harbour board, harbourmaster Grahame Forshaw says there have been complaints at the Double Lock and Salmon Pool Bridge.

“This can be diving and swimming in the lock or at worst the throwing of stones and flinging of mud onto the passing ferry, kayakers and paddle-boarders,” he said.

“We do not have the staff resources to police these areas, but we do contact the local neighbourhood police teams to help. 

“Fortunately, at the height of the summer this year, there was slightly less of this bad behaviour because of the poor weather conditions.”

Mr Forshaw’s report also draws attention to problems with weeds growing in and around the canal, meaning visitors wanting to take boats along the waterway are being put off.

Warm weather through the early part of the summer caused weeds to grow strongly in and around the canal, and now the city council is to look at ways of keeping them in check.

“Visitors in yachts and larger craft are reluctant to go further up the canal because of the weed issue,” says Mr Forshaw. 

“The weed is a hindrance to all leisure users as well as the moving of workboats and equipment. 

“Going forward we will definitely need to explore a better way of controlling weed. 

“The number of rowers, kayakers and paddle-boarders is only going to increase.”

Councillors will also hear a plea for more staff to work on the water.

Mr Forshaw’s report goes on: “The service remains undermanned.

“Much of the urgent and necessary works needed to keep the infrastructure going is unable to be done due to the lack of workforce. 

“The business plan that we are preparing will address this issue.”

Guy Henderson