Upset over state of boating lake after major leak found

FELIXSTOWE: One of the town’s best-loved tourist attractions has fallen into a state of disrepair after developing a leak which could be costly to repair.

The once-beautiful boating lake near Felixstowe Leisure Centre, in Undercliff Road West, has been a popular tourist spot for decades, attracting visitors to the town to play on the water.

The council had planned to bring in water Zorbing on the lake this summer, an activity where people roll around in a giant plastic ball on the surface of the water.

But the pond has now fallen into disrepair after a major leak was discovered.

David Foulkes, 66, of Cauldwell Hall Road, Ipswich, said: “I used to have a lot of fun on here when I was a kid. There were lots of paddle boats and we used to see how quickly we could crash into each other.

“It’s just gone into disrepair and I think it’s a shame. It looks as though the whole thing is just being left to fall apart.

“I wish somebody would do something about it. It’s a bit of a monstrosity and it’s not making a very good impression of Felixstowe.”

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Suffolk Coastal District Council drained and refilled the lake in spring, ready for the summer. But a major leak had developed which the council estimates could cost as much as �10,000 to repair.

Maria Harrison runs Suffolk Segways, which offers rides on a track next to the lake and was flooded by water leaking from the pond just three days ago.

Miss Harrison, 21, said: “When we agreed to take over the lease, we were told there were going to be Zorbs on the lake and the ice cream stall would be open, so we are disappointed that they haven’t been used.

“We were hoping we would have more people coming through. We want them to do whatever they can to bring people in because the state it’s in really hasn’t helped us.”

Residents and local businesses are now worried about the impact on visitor numbers to the seaside resort.

Brian Parker, 70, brought his wife and two granddaughters from their home in Haverhill to the seafront yesterday, only to find many of the rides and attractions were closed.

Mr Parker said: “We have travelled more than 60 miles, and we have found the rides are not open and the pond, which used to have little dinghies on it, is shut.

“We will probably go somewhere else next time because it’s started to look like a dead loss. We won’t come again if the rides and lake are all gone – there’s no point.”

Suffolk Coastal is now investigating whether it is economically viable to make the repairs to the lake, or whether it should be redeveloped as part of a long-term regeneration of the seafront.

A council spokesperson said: “The boating lake became vacant last year when the previous tenant moved to a different site.

“Someone had planned to use it for Zorb Balls this summer but while emptying and cleaning the lake a severe leak was discovered. Significant repairs are required to make it usable again as it cannot hold water and cannot be refilled.

“We are still investigating what is the best solution for the area and are considering both short term and long term options.”

A new tenant is being sought to take over the site for next year.

n What do you think of the state of the boating lake? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail