Will flooding spell the end for events on the Meadows?

Scenes of flooding are all too familiar on the Meadows in Stamford, seen here underwater in November 2012
Scenes of flooding are all too familiar on the Meadows in Stamford, seen here underwater in November 2012
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As yet another event in Stamford is cancelled after heavy rain, the town council pledges to repair the damage done - once the flood plain dries out.

The Victorian cricket match due to take place on Stamford’s Meadows this Sunday is the latest event to fall victim to the weather.

The annual extravaganza, organised by the Rotary Club of Stamford Burghley, was called off on Wednesday. Regular downpours left the ground waterlogged and Stamford Town Council, which owns the Meadows, decided to pull the plug to prevent any further damage.

Rotarian Jon Whowell, who helped organise the cricket, said: “While we are disappointed that this major fundraising event is not going to happen we respect the council’s decision and would not want to damage the Meadows in any way.”

Mr Whowell said the club had looked into the possibility of holding the event on the Recreation Ground but it was “just not feasible”.

The infamous British weather has affected several events on the Meadows this year. Just last week the council had to call off Stamford Summer Fayre at short notice. And the Meadows were too wet to accommodate rides during the traditional Mid-Lent Fair in March.

The condition of the Meadows, which are classed as flood plains, was a hot topic at the council’s amenities committee meeting on Tuesday. Afterwards, chairman Mike Exton (Con) said the rain had become a particular problem this year.

“When we had the antiques fair two weeks ago we inspected the ground and it was all in perfect order,” said Coun Exton.

“Then we had a lot of rain that weekend. The water just didn’t go away and it got back into a bad state.

“We want to try to protect the people and also the future use of the Meadows. If we get a good spell of dry weather we shall start using it again.”

The council has set aside about £10,000 to repair the damage done to the Meadows in recent years. This goes back as far as 2012, when the Riverside Festival had to be called off at the last minute due to flooding.

The effects of that cancellation were felt into the following year, when the festival was again called off due to a delay in the insurance payout for 2012.

The council hopes to install sturdy membranes under the earth at the entrances to the Meadows, to reduce the amount of damage done by heavy vehicles moving on and off the field. The many sunken areas of the Meadows will also be filled in.

Work should begin in September. But nothing can be done until the Meadows dry out. Coun Exton said: “The ground has not been sufficiently dry enough and in a condition to do the work.”

The council also owns the Recreation Ground and many Mercury readers asked why the Summer Fayre and Victorian cricket events couldn’t have been moved there.

But Coun Exton said it would not have been possible to do at such short notice. He added: “There was not enough space for the cricket match. And we have to act quickly to cancel events for the traders and the people who are coming in.

“The Rec is just not big enough to accommodate these events and we can’t have half the traders and not the other half.”

Despite the disappointment of recent weeks Coun Exton insists that the council’s main priority is ensuring the Meadows can still be used in the future.

“We are spending all this money to try to preserve it, hopefully for years to come,” he said. “We have got to look at how many events we have, I think. Do we need to have a cut off point? It is up to the council to say when we reach a saturation point”.

○ The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and Red Arrows will still fly over the Meadows as planned at 3.15pm and 5.30pm on Sunday.