PLANS to curb illegal mooring along Oxford's waterways are "unworkable" and risk discriminating against boaters, it has been warned.

Labour-run Oxford City Council is facing another threat of legal action over a proposed public spaces protection order (PSPO), which would cover the River Thames, the Cherwell and Oxford Canal.

The National Bargee Travellers Association (NBTA) said the order would criminalise "normal and necessary boating activities", with the council's scrutiny committee chairman also claiming it has serious flaws.

Council leaders they planned to press ahead with the plans, stressing that it would have "the widest consultation possible".

The PSPO would ban people from mooring boats at riverbanks without the landowner's permission, obstructing paths or the waterways, putting up structures or leaving rubbish and failing to control dogs.

But Craig Simmons, Green Party leader and chairman the council's scrutiny committee, said the draft order was "half-baked" and criticised "silly" measures restricting how many dogs people could walk at a time.

He added: "It is just impractical in places and needs to be more flexible.

"If you are travelling and pull up in your boat how do you even go about getting the landowner's permission?

"There are also some very silly measures, like restricting the number of dogs that someone can walk to four, which is backed up by no evidence showing it is even a problem.

"This is an issue about practicality, because at the moment it is unworkable."

Council officers and police would be able to enforce the PSPO with £100 on-the-spot fines and prosecutions that could lead to £1,000 fines.

The city council said it was part of efforts to tackle illegal mooring, drunken antics and criminal and environmental damage.

But the NBTA warned that measures restricting smoke would prevent boaters from running engines, generators and stoves and "leave dozens of homes without lighting or heating".

It added: "Based upon the evidence provided the proposed PSPO is disproportionate, unjustified, or even illegal.

"We wish to communicate our continued desire to work with council to improve Oxford waterways, however the document is erroneous and thus not fit to go forward to public consultation.

"The NBTA has offered legal support... and any prosecution of Oxford boaters would result in judicial review."

The comments come less than six months after the city council found itself in a row over a different PSPO, for the city centre.

The local authority was accused of "criminalising homeless people and buskers" by civil rights group Liberty, which also threatened legal action.

But Labour city councillor Colin Cook, who helped develop the waterways PSPO, said: "Clearly there are some things that could be changed, but I do not think that will be as complicated as some people have made out.

"The whole point of consultations is to adapt your proposals before you implement them, based on people's feedback and you have got to start somewhere."

Dee Sinclair, executive board member for crime, community safety and licensing, added: "We are opening up the debate early so we can involve as many people as possible. We want the widest consultation possible."

The draft waterways PSPO will be considered by senior councillors at a 5pm meeting in Oxford Town Hall today.