09:00AM, Thursday 15 June 2017
Sewage spills in the River Thames cost a water activities centre almost £300,000 – even though it was unaffected.
The head of Longridge Activity Centre, in Quarry Wood Road, Bisham, has claimed the business is still recovering from the fallout of a pollution incident at Little Marlow Sewage Works.
From 2012-14 more than a billion litres of waste were unleashed by Thames Water, prompting the firm to be slapped with a record £20m fine in March.
“We were very lucky because the sewage works are along the river a bit and it flowed away from us,” said Amanda Foister (pictured left), head of ALF Villages, which runs Longridge.
“Our courses were always really popular and there were waiting lists for them, but for the first year afterwards no one was booking.
“People were still visiting, but they were doing more of our land-based activities instead of the water activities.”
From the end of 2013 to end of 2016 the centre estimates it missed out on £284,700 worth of sales, a ‘significant amount’ given its annual turnover of about £600,000.
According to Ms Foister, who was made an OBE in the New Years Honours List for services to young people, a recovery in the number of people using the centre had also been set back following the conclusion of the court case in March and which had reminded many of the incident.
She also carried out a survey of users, more than half of whom said they had stayed away because of the sewage spill.
“People said it was because of the water pollution and if there’s any risk at all they don’t want to take it with their children.
“It’s a shame because the water is as good as it’s ever been. There’s no reason to be concerned, we test the water regularly and we know the river very well.”
Visit www.alfvillages.org.uk to find out about Longridge Centre.
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