Flooded ground hits Southwold club’s young players
- Credit: Picture: Nick Butcher
ACTION is being called for by Southwold Golf Club to resolve flooding problems that have left its young players' practice ground almost permanently under water for the last two years.
The club rents 15 acres of marshland from Southwold Town Council for the development of its juniors but a combination of heavy rain and blocked and broken sluice gates mean the land has remained water-logged and virtually unusable – leaving them with nowhere to play.
Club secretary Roger Sweet said he accepted marshland would be under water at certain times of the year but the situation was now worse than ever.
He said: 'The water just doesn't drain properly. That's the problem. We have had a very wet winter and summer but, even so, it is not operating as marsh should operate. It is not meant to be wet for 12 months of the year.'
Mr Sweet said the club had been able to use the practice area for just eight weeks in the last year, including only one week during the school summer holidays. Previously, it had got at least six months' use out of it.
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Golfers must have a reasonable proficiency to use the club's nine-hole golf course, meaning up to 60 children from St Felix School and at least 40 junior club members that had previously used the marsh for practice now had nowhere to play.
Mr Sweet said: 'The danger is that we lose promising young players to other things. We have had several good youngsters that may have drifted off and done something else because of this.'
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The marshes are owned by Southwold but were managed by Waveney District Council from 1974 until 2010, when the town council regained the management.
One sluice at Salt Creek, which is part of the harbour undertaking and believed to be the responsibility of Waveney District Council, is broken. This prevents water escaping from the marshes and contributing to the flooding on the practice ground.
Mr Sweet said another sluice, which drains water from the practice marsh, was being regularly and deliberately blocked by an unknown person.
'Someone keeps putting extra boards in one of the sluice gates,' he said. 'Our greenkeeper goes down on a regular basis to remove them. That has been happening for a few years now and we don't know who is doing it or why.'
The town council has commissioned a survey of drainage on the marshes and will meet with the golf club in coming weeks to discuss the results.
Southwold mayor Michael Ladd said: 'Clearly the water isn't circulating where it should. The water in some of the ditches is stagnant. It is getting blocked somewhere and we are working to find out where.'
Town councillor Sue Allen the council was hoping to work with Waveney to resolve the problem. She added: 'It is an ongoing issue and we are having talks to see how we can help the golf club get rid of the water more easily.'
Part of the marsh land rented by the golf club has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest by Natural England.
A recent survey of the land by the organisation found a lack of biodiversity and concluded the land was in 'unfavourable recovering condition'.
The report said marshes had been too wet and too dry at different times and blocked ditches were not helping drainage.
It stated the water level management was unsatisfactory and a full assessment of the problems with the drainage infrastructure was needed to establish a management strategy.