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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

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Boatman's battle heats up after prank at Carlisle park pond

The boatman at Carlisle’s Hammond’s Pond says he will continue his fight for the right to store the tools of his trade at the city-council owned storeroom there.

David Hetherington photo
David Hetherington

Related: Protest over eviction notice for Carlisle park boat man

David Hetherington, 59, had to remove his equipment from the council-owned storeroom at the park. It includes 13 boats, 34 oars, and more than 50 life-jackets.

In the short term, he has been forced to moor his boats to buoys in the middle of the pond, but yesterday morning they were all found cast adrift in what was thought to have been a prank.

The incident is a clear illustration, says Mr Hetherington, of why he needs a secure storage facility for his boats and associated equipment.

Two councillors from the area have spoken out in support of the boat service.

But city council officials said they felt they had to act because they believed his storage of materials in at the council storeroom may have breached health and safety rules – an allegation Mr Hetherington denies.

The former Sellafield worker and father-of-six said: “When I went to the park morning, I found that the boats had been set adrift.

“It was just a prank but it shows why I need somewhere to keep them. I’ve been told that boats have been used on Hammond’s Pond for the last 90 years, and it’s clear that people absolutely love them.

“I absolutely refute any suggestion that I have created a health and safety risk. That’s something I am very aware of because of my work.

“I’d never put myself or anybody else in danger.”

Upperby ward councillor Donald Cape said he welcomed anything that can enhance the enjoyment of visitors to the park, including the provision of boat trips.

He said: “It’s a valuable service as long as things are done within the city council rules and are right on the health and safety side. I’d like to think there could be an amicable solution.”

Fellow Upperby councillor Ann Warwick said generations of Carlisle people had enjoyed the boats at Hammond’s Pond.

“If they can still be there, and run safely and efficiently, we’d welcome it,” she said.

A city council spokeswoman said yesterday that there was no intention to stop the use of boats on the pond, but officials believe he could continue to operate the business without using the council store.

A tenancy agreement covering the store had lapsed and it was now needed for efficient management at the park.

Have your say

Would it not be safer for the boats to be locked up than left in the lake inviting teenagers to play on?? Especially with winter coming along.
My husband and I moved here only 5 months ago and our children love the boats. We'd never get there where we moved from. It's fantastic. I think the council are being rather over the top and unfair. You just can't do anything these days! The fact that this man dedicates his time and energy in proving a service at such low costs is great and I think he should be appreciated for his efforts. Local people would be saddened if the boats were to stop. The council need to think about the consequences

Posted by Amanda on 17 October 2012 at 22:06

I would like to say I have used the boats now for over 20 years, when I took my daughter recently Mr Hetherington was absolutely brilliant, he looked after us really weell and I think it will be a sorry miss if he has to stop working on the pond

Posted by Karen on 9 October 2012 at 12:55

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