Residents on Trowlock Island, in Teddington, in dispute over future of overgrown towpath
A sleepy Thames islet is battling Richmond Council over plans to open up an overgrown towpath.
Those living on Trowlock Island are worried drug dealers would return to the hidden riverside spot, having been arguing about its future for nearly a decade.
The spot is a slipway next to the Royal Canoe Club, where Olympians Tim Brabants and Jessica Walker trained, and Richmond Council threatened action against the owners of cars and vans that have blocked access, preventing it from cutting back the vegetation and tidying the towpath, which runs behind Teddington School.
A spokesman for Richmond Council said: “Due to people blocking the access to the towpath with vehicles and other items, we have temporarily closed the path until we resolve the matter. We aim to have the towpath open as soon as possible.”
Helen Harris, chairman of Trowlock Island limited, residents’ management group, has lived there for 12 years and said families of the island’s 29 homes used to be responsible for the towpath.
She said: “It’s a real problem the towpath, we were so glad that we don’t look after it anymore because fishermen go there, it’s so close to the houses on the backwater and you had lowlife and drug dealers down there.
“It would be awful if it opened up again.”
Roger Mathias, another islander and father of Conservative councillor Tania Mathias, said most of the households on the backwater were against the towpath.
But Robin Monk, whose 90-year-old mother Anne has lived on the island for nearly 50 years, said it should be a public right of way so people could sit by the river and feed the ducks.
He said his mother had not been able to afford an increase in service charges when Trowlock Island limited looked after the land.
He added: “At no time have the council ever put on Broom Road or Trowlock Way any notification to the public that there was a riverside walkway or a slipway for use by the public. If people don’t know then how can they use it?
“It seems like the council is pandering for some unknown reason to the people on the island.”
The council was unable to confirm when it would re-open the towpath.