Campaign to raise £140,000 launched to clear mud from Lake Grounds

PUBLISHED: 06:13 16 November 2017

Charles Murphy says the mud makes capsizing more likely.

Charles Murphy says the mud makes capsizing more likely.

Charles Murphy

A campaign has been set up to raise £140,000 to shift mud out of Portishead's lake.

Charles Murphy at Portishead Lake Grounds.Charles Murphy at Portishead Lake Grounds.

Charles Murphy wants to reduce the build up of mud which he says is affecting efforts to teach children watersports in a safe environment.

While the marina and coastline can provide plenty of watersports opportunities, the Lake Grounds is considered the best place for beginners.

Mr Murphy has approached North Somerset Council to see whether improvements can be carried out.

However, no council money can be committed to the project, so he will seek grants and donations.

He believes the ‘jewel in the crown’ title for the Lake Grounds was well justified and hopes a successful scheme can improve it further.

Mr Murphy told the Times: “The Lake Grounds is still considered to be Portishead’s premier attraction and free for the public to enjoy.

“It is used for many community activities and events including dinghy sailing, model boats, adult paddle boats, child paddle boats, the annual charity raft race and soapbox races.”

However, he believes a build-up of mud over time is now causing difficulties.

Mr Murphy said the lake’s bed is one metre below the surface, but there is a layer of 50cm of mud on top of it which means oars and other instruments can snag when used.

He said: “Boys and girls, some as young as eight years old, who are Portishead Yacht and Sailing Club cadets, are introduced to sailing on the lake prior to progressing to the deeper water at the marina and finally when they are sufficiently competent training on the Severn Estuary at Sugar Loaf Beach.

“The shallow depth means they have to use reduced length centre-boards. This increases the risk of capsize, and also changes the control characteristics, degrading their learning experience.”

He hopes a funding plan will be looked kindly on by Sport England and other bodies.

A North Somerset Council spokesman said: “We have no evidence that this is a serious issue. But we understand that for Mr Murphy it is important.

“Because of shrinking budgets we do not have the money to even contemplate doing this work but of course we would be happy to discuss it with Mr Murphy if he is successful in raising the cash.”

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