Sailing charity is forced to close

Chairman of the Disabled Sailors Association Mike Wood (65), outside the shop  in Cranleigh Road, Fareham.  Picture: Sarah Standing (123158-4340)
Chairman of the Disabled Sailors Association Mike Wood (65), outside the shop in Cranleigh Road, Fareham. Picture: Sarah Standing (123158-4340)
Picture: Malcolm Wells

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A CHARITY is to take legal action against Hampshire County Council after it suffered serious flooding shortly after maintenance work was carried out nearby by the council.

It comes as the charity, the Disabled Sailors Association, recently had more than £20,000 worth of stock stolen.

Now, the chairman of the DSA has admitted the charity will be forced to close its doors due to a severe lack of funds.

The charity believes that the council is responsible for the flooding after replacing a grass verge in Cranleigh Road with a gravel pathway.

Mike Wood, chairman of the charity, says no drainage was installed at the eastern end of the road and this has led to the flooding of the adjacent property in heavy rain.

He plans to sue the council for £250,000 – which is what he believes it will cost to close the charity.

He said: ‘There was never any flooding before the council works and the council have inspected the site and agree they caused the problem.

‘I guess if we take everything into consideration it’s costing our charity about £5,000 per week at the moment but the damage to our reputation and credibility is of much greater value. This will very seriously affect our fundraising and I can’t see how we can continue.’

The DSA provides sailing for more than 2,000 disabled people a year in its purpose designed yachts and dinghies.

The premises in Portchester has a charity shop that provides an indoor race track and shop for radio controlled model enthusiasts. But last month more than £20,000 worth of models were stolen.

‘It doesn’t matter what we do, we can’t get enough money in to pay the bills,’ he added.

‘The burglary and the flooding means we are finished.

‘I would have to raise £100,000 this year just to keep things going. In the short term we haven’t got enough money to carry on. If there wasn’t any flooding we could probably just scrape by.’

But Councillor Mel Kendal, executive member for environment and transport, said the drainage in the area has not been ‘adversely affected’.

The issue has been referred to the legal department.

‘It is unfortunate to hear of the problems that the Disabled Sailors Association has had with flooding on their premises,’ he said.

‘Work has recently been carried out to build a footpath so that pedestrians, who previously had to walk in the road or on an uneven verge, can now safely reach the local recreation ground.

‘It is not believed that the works have adversely affected drainage in the area.

‘Investigations undertaken whilst the county council’s contractor was on site in July suggest that there may be some issues with existing drainage pipes in the area, but that these are not the responsibility of the Highway Authority as they do not lie within the extent of the public highway.’ COMMENT n PAGE 8