Inside Midland village forced to spend £10,000 over bizarre fence rule

A boat owner next to his vessel
-Credit: (Image: (Image: SWNS))

Residents of one Mildand village are facing a huge bill - for breaking a strange rule by being nice. People living at Albion Mill in Worcester, near a scenic marina, face a £10,000 bill for a new fence to prevent them from assisting boat users with their shopping.

The current practice involves boat owners leaving their shopping at metal railings on the opposite side of the pontoon where their boats are moored, to avoid a 20-minute walk carrying heavy bags. They then stroll around the apartments to access Diglis Marina and receive their bags over the railings from generous Albion Mill residents.

However, apartment managers now intend to construct a 2m (6.5ft) high, 35m (114ft) long fence to block off the pontoon following complaints about boat owners trespassing from two individuals. They argue that the current system allows boat owners to access a private car park and claim some people have been scaling the metal railings.

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But irate residents argue they're being penalised for aiding boat owners. Jon Bodenham, 50, an Albion Mill resident, expressed his frustration: "It is a significant cost, around £9,000 to £10,000, which is happening without any consultation with residents. I am just absolutely livid that a few complaints can actually enact something like this without consulting a wider body of residents.

"Why? Because once or twice a week someone helps someone else by handing a bag of shopping or two across a fence. The boat owners are our friends and neighbours, but this is not very neighbourly."

Before the construction of Albion Mill, boat owners could directly access the pontoon from the site, but now they face a 1km detour to reach their vessels. Tony Wass, 67, who has been living full-time on the marina with his partner Stuart since December 2022, voiced his concerns about the potential danger a new fence would pose in case of an emergency.

One of the locks near Albion Mill
One of the locks near Albion Mill -Credit:(Image: SWNS)

He expressed: "At the moment, the fence means that if anyone on the boats had an emergency an ambulance or fire engine could get pretty close. If this fence goes up we'd be stuffed.

"If there was a fire here we'd be trapped here. The fire officer said to jump into the canal but I'm not going to do that at 67 and in freezing cold water in winter.

"The shopping thing is an inconvenience. If we have to bring our shopping on the 1km route, it's ridiculous. It's a 15 minute walk. The new route goes over very wide locks which are quite dangerous and you can fall into them in winter.

View oif Albion Mill and the marina
View of Albion Mill and the marina -Credit:(Image: SWNS)

"To think we could be trapped here in an emergency is frightening. We never thought the fence was an issue. The thing about trespassing is ridiculous. This land is open to the public.

"We often have people walking up to the fence line to look at the boats. It's the only way we could get deliveries to us because there's no access."

Long-time boater Joe Prentice, 69, who's been living on his boat since 2007, shared: "It's just one of those things that's come to a head now. There actually used to be a gate on the moorings that the old factory manager used to let us use. It was a sort of community then as well."

He also mentioned the practicalities of accessing the moorings: "I do it, I hand stuff over, drop my shopping bags over and drop my stuff. If they used the car park in the marina it would take me 15 to 20 minutes to walk from the car park to the moorings."

Dave Price, 56, another boat owner, expressed his frustration: "It's absolutely ridiculous. It's all stemming from two people passing bags of shopping over twice a week. If I order some groceries or a Just Eat delivery they hand it over the fence."

He added, highlighting the community's feelings: "They're probably two or three people who have moaned about it from 300-400 residents. There's one woman who complained and she was shouting obscenities at us, she was calling us 'water gypsies'."

First Port, the company managing the nearby converted apartment building, insists that the boaters are trespassing.

The company's spokesperson stated: "Climbing over the fence as an access point to and from the canal presents a significant safety concern and is likely to cause extensive damage. Previously, there has been damage around the fence which has had to be rectified at a cost to the residents of Albion Mill."