Haverhill anglers angry over ‘dangerous’ fishing bays

Peter Williams, Keith Petherick, Steve Mason and Karl Taylor at the Newt Pond in Haverhill  (Photo: Mark Bullimore)
Peter Williams, Keith Petherick, Steve Mason and Karl Taylor at the Newt Pond in Haverhill (Photo: Mark Bullimore)

Anglers claim rotting fishing bays are putting users of the Newt Pond in Haverhill at risk.

Ten bays – platforms extending over the water – were built in 2008 as part of a £58,000 Lottery funded improvement scheme to the pond and surrounding Castle Playing Fields and later improved using wooden posts.

A bolt sticking out of the disabled bay at Haverhill's Newt Pond (photo: Mark Bullimore)

A bolt sticking out of the disabled bay at Haverhill's Newt Pond (photo: Mark Bullimore)

But now the Friends of the Newt Pond claim the wood is rotting and are calling on St Edmundsbury Borough Council, which runs the pond, to take action.

Water bailiff Keith Petherick explained: “When they revamped it they put those bays in and backfilled them with gravel stuff which washed away, so they came and put wood on the end and that’s all rotted now, all the posts have rotted. It’s very dangerous.”

“They need replacing, properly, without wooden posts, because wood and water don’t go. A lot of the places I fish at use scaffold bars in the water and railway sleepers around the outside,” he added.

There are further concerns about the pond’s only disabled bay which has a ‘great big bolt sticking out the side’ and another bay, considered one of the best fishing spots, which was left ‘in a right state’ after being taken apart by contractors around seven weeks ago.

The Newt Pond in Haverhill (photo: Mark Bullimore)

The Newt Pond in Haverhill (photo: Mark Bullimore)

Mr Petherick, who is also a member of the Parkway Residents’ Association, said the state of the Newt Pond was often raised at meetings but remained an issue, despite being reported to the council ‘no end of times’.

“I just don’t feel they care, and that’s the feeling of a lot of the fishermen and women up there,” he said.

Fishing enthusiast Peter Williams thinks the pond has ‘gone down hill every year’ since the Lottery’s investment, so much so that he is unsure whether to join as a member again this year.

He says that while the fish are in surprisingly good health, there is ‘no plant life in the pond’ and ‘everything’s overhanging’ and in need of being cut back.

“They [the council] get enough money from the people who join but don’t do anything about it – I don’t know where it’s going. We’ve offered to do work up there but they say we can’t because of health and safety,” he said.

Of the bays, he added: “They’re all rotting. They’ve ripped one apart and left it and there’s a couple more where the boards are coming apart – it can be dangerous, if you trip on them you either end up in the water or in the weeds and stingy nettles.”

Mark ‘Nutty’ Livett feels ‘blessed’ to have the Newt Pond on his doorstep but says that while it is a ‘great place to fish’ and to socialise, it is ‘untidy and starting to deteriorate’.

He thinks the council focuses on East Town Park at the expense of the Newt Pond.

He said: “Everything’s focused up East Town. We still exist, we’re still part of Haverhill but they just don’t seem to show us any enthusiasm.

“I know we don’t pay a lot to fish there but, come on, it needs fixing.”

Carl Lindsay agrees the general maintenance of the Newt Pond ‘is appalling’ and says it is neglected while East Town Park – ‘on the rich side of town’ – has money spent on it.

He said: “I know we only pay £13 a year to fish there but that’s not the point. It’s a really good fishery but it needs to be maintained because if it’s not they’ll lose the fish.”

A spokesman for the council said: “The fishing platforms at the site are inspected regularly and action taken, when necessary, to repair them. One platform was closed and removed following a recent inspection and is due to be replaced in the next fortnight.

“We recognise that while the others are showing signs of use they are safe and still suitable for fishing from. However, we know they will need work in the near future and we will carry this out when appropriate while also making regular inspections.”