Anglers fear Haverhill fishing location's future is under threat
Fears have been raised over the future of a popular fishing venue in Haverhill that has been closed to anglers for months.
Fishing at the Newt Pond, at Castle Playing Fields, has been prohibited by its owner and manager, West Suffolk Council, since July because of a Koi Herpes Virus outbreak.
An annual fishing permit for the pond currently costs £13 for an adult and £6.50 for a child but local anglers say a proposal by the council to have it taken over by a syndicate could lead to its demise.
Keith Petherick who, until August, had been a volunteer bailiff for 14 years at Newt Pond, said: “They want someone to take it over which means the kids can’t fish unless they pay a club, which will cost them a fortune. I think it is all wrong.”
Peter Williams, who has used the pond for 53 years said: “They are trying to lease it out to a syndicate but we think no-one will take it over because if you are going to fish on a syndicate lake you don’t want people walking around with their dogs.
“At the moment it’s just a waste of a nice pond.
“If it goes to a syndicate they are going to want a lot more than the current permit price and you won’t get youngsters fishing it because they can’t afford it. Some charge £400 to £500 per season. It’s a lot of money.”
Both men also questioned whether the council’s proposals were allowable given that the pond had various improvements made in 2008 thanks to £58,000 of Lottery funding.
Mr Petherick added: “We just want the pond back open. That’s all we want.”
A spokesman for West Suffolk Council said: “The Environment Agency has set out a series of measures that need to be put in place if fishing is to resume at the Newt Pond in Haverhill.
“We recognise that fishing is popular there and we are keen that rather than simply closing the fishing lake, we work with the anglers that use it to find a reasonable solution.
“The measures, designed to stop the spread of the Koi Herpes Virus to other fishing lakes and ponds, include a disinfectant dip tank that would need refreshing at regular intervals.
“The costs involved leave us with three possible solutions:
1) We increase the permit fee for all users which we recognise may not be the best solution for young anglers.
2) We close the lake to fishing on a permanent basis.
3) Our preferred solution whereby the anglers form their own syndicate and set the costs to various members so not to discourage anglers but to allow fishing to resume.
“We are working towards this outcome. The syndicate model has worked well in other areas and could be a practical way to address this problem.
“We ask that if any permit holders are interested in becoming a committee member/bailiff of a new syndicate to manage the lake, that they email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to us at Parks and Open Spaces, West Suffolk Council, West Suffolk House, Western Way, Bury St Edmunds, IP33 3YU.”