New railings have been installed at the Burgh Mill Sluice gate after they were damaged by youngsters using the riverside walkway as a jumping and diving platform.
Burgh Mill owner, Nigel Grix, who regularly operates the gates, reported the damaged railings to the Environment Agency. This was followed up by Chrissie McVeigh with a letter to Rachael Storr, Team Leader for the EA, who sent her field team to repair the railings.
The new railings are much more substantial and should make operating the sluice gates a little safer and perhaps deter people from diving into the river.
The Burgh Mill Sluice gate is used to control the water levels of the River Bure between Aylsham Mill and Burgh Mill. The agency and Mr Grix control the river levels between these mills.
With the recent hot weather more and more people from Aylsham and surrounding villages have been visiting the river at Burgh to walk their dogs, kayak or swim. During the lead up to the July full moon (blood moon), a significant number of teenagers visited the village to hang out and swim in the river pool beyond the sluice gate.
A small number of them created a significant noise nuisance by speeding and revving their cars along Church Lane during this period (a number of Church Lane residents reported this to the police) they were parking opposite the church. They left huge amounts of litter in the parking area opposite the church and in and around the river by the sluice gates, which was picked up regularly by Burgh residents and the Environment Agency.
The youngsters also broke down the walkway railings above the sluice gate to allow them to jump or dive into the river more easily, an activity which, although great fun, can be dangerous especially at low water levels.
“The railings are there for a reason which is to reduce the risk of the sluice gate operators falling into the river. They should not be accessed by the public.” said Chrissie McVeigh.
“At the moment, the river levels are low and the flow slow but there is still a risk that an operator could fall, knock themselves out and drown in the river. The risk increases significantly when the river level is high, in full spate and the operator – usually Mr Grix – has to go down to the sluice gates to open them up.
“This he often does alone in atrocious weather conditions and in the middle of the night. He does this to reduce the risk of flooding to properties in the village of Burgh and those further upstream.
“It is a vital community role and one he is often not recognised or given credit for. The very least we can do as a community is to try to minimise his risks.”