May 25 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
There is an open day on the River Cray on Thursday to encourage people to get involved in preserving the river.
The Environment Agency are holding it at Hall Place Sports Pavilion in Bourne Road, Bexley, amid concerns that the agency has turned it into a muddy creek by lowering a sluice gate at Thames Road in Crayford.
A sluice gate is designed to allow water to flow under it and the agency said they did this to allow the river to establish its natural water level. But some residents claimed this dramatically decreased the water level and turned the river into a muddy bank, affecting the wildlife at the same time.
The meeting runs from 3.30pm to 7pm and opinion is divided over the reasons behind the consultation process.
Crayford Councillor Melvin Seymour said: “The Environment Agency have been incredibly heavy-handed in their approach so far.
“I think they’re trying to manage the situation for their own means but it seems they’re now willing to listen. We’ve convinced them to meet with us to discuss the best way forward.
The event will show people how they can get involved in future restoration projects and there will be a number of drop-in sessions to allow people to air their ideas.
Representatives from the agency will be available to ask any questions people may have about the river. It is the second such open day after a similar experiment last month.
Ian Lindon of the Crayford Forum was more receptive. He said: “I went to the last meeting but I think some people have got the wrong end of the stick.
“The Environment Agency had to open it completely to see what the effect would be on the river and if the sluice gate needs to be repaired or replaced.”
A spokesman for the Environment Agency said they are looking for community involvement in deciding the future of the river.
He said: “The open day is the first step to developing a collective ambition for the local community to be at the heart of shaping it.
“In February we undertook a trial at the sluice to gather more information which we will use in future conversations about the sluice and ways we might improve the river for people and wildlife.”
The River Cray runs from Orpington to Crayford before entering the River Darent.