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Chasewater. Pic: Bruce Kain and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
A Burntwood councillor has waded into the row over repairs to the Chasewater dam. Cllr Steve Norman (Lab, Summerfield) claims that no-one “read the small print” when the reservoir – and the maintenance costs – came under the control of Lichfield District Council. He said:
“The fact is that Lichfield District Council took over responsibility Chasewater Country Park, and the dam, following the boundary changes in 1994.  What was clear in 1996, when Labour had won control of the council the year before, was that no one seemed to have read the small print of what we were getting. “It was astonishing that whichever local authority took it on also took on the cost of the upkeep of the dam – without entitlement to payment or financial support from anyone else.”
Councillor Norman said that there were over 2,000 dams in England and Wales and over 80 per cent were made of clay and earth – mostly built by the Victorians. He added:
“We left the Conservative administration with capital receipts of over £38 million in 1999 and they will be using the costs of the dam, incidentally about half of the cost of the Lichfield Garrick, as the reason why they can’t spend anything in Burntwood in the foreseeable future.”
The need for repairs to the dam – as well as the large bill for the work – has seen Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant write to the Prime Minister about the situation. Cllr Norman added:
“Whilst Mr Fabricant has done his usual PR following his question to the Prime Minister and even written a follow-up letter to him why didn’t he do anything following his question 15 days earlier to the relevant minister?  Perhaps he can tell us what lobbying he has done in the past 12 months and what the results were? “It would be great if we could get some outside funding, although it might open the floodgates for the owners of the other 1,599 earth dams and clearly, David Smith, Leader of the Council and Chairman of the West Midlands Regional Assembly, hasn’t had much support from his council colleagues whose canals will be affected by the draining of the reservoir.”

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Founder of Lichfield Live and editor of the site.