SIR: It is regrettable that this section of the River Itchen, at Itchen Abbas, has had to be fenced off. The owners have, for many years, allowed it to be used for paddling and picnicking and have tried hard to avoid closure. I am not surprised that patience has run out – mine would have long ago.

The recent hot summers, particularly, have attracted too many trouble makers – mostly, but not entirely, young people who have displayed appalling behaviour which they appear to consider pretty cool and great fun. Anyone challenging this idea has been treated to threatening and abusive behaviour and the kind of vocabulary possibly unfamiliar to children enjoying a paddle.

Not content with the section of river fenced off for their use, boundaries have been ignored, horseplay indulged in and wading, swimming and even canoeing have damaged both the river banks and bed. Following their departure there has also been the inevitable litter, including broken glass and excrement on the banks and surrounding area. Even some of the young Mum’s appear not to have been blameless as dirty nappies have been found festooning the bushes.

I have worked with offenders for many years and am no stranger to bad behaviour and foul language but know the difference between that and ‘high spirits’.

We have so few chalk streams and anyone concerned with the environment must be aware of the need to look after them as they are already suffering a high degree of pollution and other problems. One would expect such people to be in favour of this move at Cow Down. Furthermore, those against it have not, I presume, been subject, as many have, to the foul mouths and intimidating behaviour (not just from the few) which has given rise, with the damage caused, to the decision to fence off the area.

Pat Brockway,

Springvale Road

Kings Worthy