A recreation ground in Southbourne has been left devastated following a spell of bad weather.
The children’s recreation ground on Park Road has been left severely damaged following recent rain, made worse by unforeseen damage from circus vehicles attempting to leave the site.
Circus Wonderland completed a three-day visit from Monday, July 9 until Wednesday, July 11, and were booked by Southbourne Parish Council last year.
As a result of heavy rain, circus staff were forced to use tractors to pull their vehicles out from the boggy field when they left.
“It was an act of God – obviously the damage caused is regrettable, but we were stuck between a rock and a hard place,” said Paul Carpenter, Circus Wonderland’s spokesman.
“We didn’t expect the weather conditions we had in July. We assessed the site and thought we should be okay – the ground was fine when we drove on. As a result of the heavy rain we were completely bogged down and stuck,” he added.
Residents are left furious with the damage caused to the recreation ground and the current state of the boggy field. In the aftermath of the bad weather, large ruts have devastated the boggy ground and the field cannot be used.
“It is absolutely ruined. A lot of money has been spent on it and the recreation ground is beautifully looked after; it is not the place for a circus,” said June Wilson, 83, of Bourneview Close.
“The state of the recreation ground at the moment is nothing short of appalling.
“I’m sad to see the pitch look like this, there’s no grass visible and it is just completely chewed up and is not possible to walk through.
“It is just a muddy mess and is hazardous for dog walkers,” said Bob Price, caretaker at Southbourne Parish Council.
The circus defended their decision to continue with their shows after assessing the ground beforehand and maintained nothing could have been done to prevent the unforeseen circumstances.
“This has been a complete nightmare because of the bad weather. I have since written to the parish council apologising for the damage caused.
“I wrote to residents several times before we arrived, assuring them of our behaviour and that we attract a family audience. I also offered them free tickets to come along,” added Mr Carpenter.
Concerns have now been raised about the approaching football season and how the ground will be repaired.
“Certainly it’s mud mayhem. The circus found the field so boggy and residents are sad this has happened.It will have to be repaired and be out of use for some time,” said Mark Everson, vice-chairman of Southbourne Parish Council.