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‘We won’t give in to vandals’ says Driffield Navigation Trust

Incidents of unsociable behaviour, theft and vandalism have blighted the Driffield Navigation over recent weeks with volunteers that manage the historic waterway vowing not to give in to the vandals and to continue their quest to see the canal fully open to Driffield.

The problems began over two weeks ago when the wooden shed at Frodingham Landing was broken into, and the tools stolen.

The boat, The Navigator, was also unmoored and left to float off along the canal, but luckily was spotted by a member of the Driffield Navigation Trust (DNT) and rescued before it came to any damage.

A week last Sunday, two youths untied one of the pontoons at Brigham Bridge and threw items into the water including the king pin which locks the bridge in place for traffic to cross it, leaving it unsafe for vehicles.

Meanwhile at the same time, members of the DNT received an email from the clerk of Skerne and Wansford Parish Council highlighting problems being experienced at the lock at Wansford.

The clerk said that large groups of young men and teenagers have been using the lock as a lido and treating the area with disrespect, throwing bottles into the canal, littering the bank, and even leaving human faeces.

Finally, a resident living next to the canal in Driffield contacted the DNT last Wednesday to complain about anti-social behaviour of youths who have been gathering at the crane at the canal and drinking until late into the night.

When asked to move, the youths were abusive, and the resident contacted the police.

John Scholey, chairman of DNT, said he finds the recent problems bitterly disappointing and annoying.
He told the Wolds Weekly: “It is very disappointing that over the past few weeks we have had so many incidents of problems at Frodingham, Brigham, Wansford and Driffield.

“We contacted the police following the break-in at Frodingham Landing and the incident at Brigham, where the king pin was thrown into the water, could have had very serious consequences, especially if a car had driven onto the bridge and it had moved.

“The problems being experienced by the residents of Wansford are also unacceptable and we have a very good relationship with the parish council and so to receive the email from the clerk about the actions of the youths there is disappointing and reflects badly on us.

“In response to a request from the clerk, we have emptied the lock so the youths can no longer use it as a lido, and I hope this will put a stop to the anti-social behaviour there.

“This is not an ideal solution because we need the lock to be full or the gates will dry out but for a week or two while we have this hot weather, we will leave the gates open.

“The problems with people drinking and hanging around the crane at Riverhead are also not new and local residents should not have to put up with this behaviour.

“We have spoken to the police and hope they will increase their patrols and we have now installed security cameras that will be recording any unsociable activities.”

Members of the DNT have worked hard to breathe life back into the Driffield Navigation and through its maintenance of the waterway, more leisure activities are taking place, including pedalos, paddleboarding and boat trips.

John added: “We are all volunteers, and we are a charitable organisation and when we get incidents such as these, it makes us question why we are doing it.

“But we won’t give in to this anti-social behaviour and it is still my aim to see the Navigation fully open to Driffield.

“Over the last 22 years, we have spent £600,000 renewing all the locks and putting in three new bridges.
“The only stumbling block now is the fixed road bridge at Wansford which is East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s responsibility, and we have a meeting planned with Alan Menzies and Cllr Charlie Dewhirst about that.

“We won’t give in and will fight until the end because we want to see the Navigation open to Driffield and we will.”

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