AIF – Rounds 1 & 2 2016/17
Another 125 organisations across England won grants from the Angling Improvement Fund (AIF) in the year to April 2017, sharing a massive £670,000 of funding made available from fishing licence sales. In all, 153 projects were selected for funding at the end of a competitive judging process.
As in previous years, the AIF – which is administered by the Angling Trust in partnership with the Environment Agency – invited clubs and fisheries to submit proposals for projects that addressed particular areas of angling need. During 2016-17, these themes were ‘Predation & Fish Protection’, ‘Access for All’, ‘Getting your Fishery Ready for Spring’, and ‘Coach Training Bursaries’.
With every winner contributing match-funding in the form of additional cash, donated materials or volunteer time (amounting to thousands of days of volunteer effort), the overall ‘worth’ of these projects is estimated at £1.5 million, representing a huge legacy for angling.
Case studies (just a small selection of AIF-funded projects in 2016-17):
BDAA (British Disabled Angling Association)
Based in Walsall, West Midlands, this charitable organisation aims to promote the provision of accessible facilities for disabled anglers, providing advice and technical guidance to anglers, fisheries and the general public. BDAA has won an award from the AIF to further develop its online ‘Find a Fishery’ tool, which enables anyone to search a list of fisheries to see what levels of access and facilities are available for disabled users. For disabled people and their supporters, it provides extra assurance that a journey to go fishing will not be a wasted one. The directory, which is now live and can be accessed via the organisation’s website provides a wealth of information of interest to disabled anglers, including details of accessible parking, disabled toilets and fishing platforms suitable for use with wheelchairs. BDAA would like to hear from any fishery that would like to be included on the directory. To register for free, fill out the form here or contact BDAA
LONDON & SOUTH EAST
London Borough of Lambeth – Eagle Pond, Clapham Common
Of the 250 permit holders who fish the three ponds on Clapham Common in South East London, more than a third classify themselves as ‘disabled’ or ‘less-abled’. However, a Council audit in 2016 had highlighted issues with the platforms and swims on Eagle Pond, the smallest of the three ponds. Existing pegs were ageing badly and of a poor design, with some affected by a 30cm drop between the platform surface and the surrounding ground. Others were too narrow to accommodate wheelchairs or mobility scooters. The AIF grant, together with significant match funding, has allowed Lambeth to replace and widen the swims and forms part of its commitment to make Clapham Common an ‘access for all’ flagship site for the whole community. Lambeth hopes to increase the number of visits by disabled anglers from a current level of 500 to at least 1,000 per year and will be working with Disability Advice Service Lambeth and colleagues at Lambeth Sports Development to promote the new facilities.
Horizon Angling Club for the Disabled
Horizon Angling Club was founded in 1985 with the aim of supporting the needs of local disabled people who wanted to go fishing. Initially they approached Portsmouth Water Ltd who had a small half acre pond, West Lake, at their offices in Havant in Hampshire. The club now has an opportunity to develop a larger adjacent lake, not currently fished. The AIF grant, awarded under the ‘Access for All’ theme, has been used to install six ‘all ability’ angling platforms on the water, suitable for disabled users, and the club plans to stock it with crucian carp as part of the national crucian conservation project, also supported by the Angling Trust and the Environment Agency. The club intends to host coaching sessions for junior participants in the future and are already in talks with a local school in this regard.
Wimborne and District Angling Club (WDAC)
Wimborne & District Angling Club had a very successful year, winning two grants from the AIF for improvements to five different waters in Dorset. The projects included a wide variety of much-needed improvements, from new car parking areas (including disabled parking bays), new and refurbished angling platforms (many built to British Disabled Angling Association standards), accessible portaloos, teaching areas and improved pathways. WDAC lease these waters and a key strength of the bids has been the involvement and co-funding of the work by the site owners, which include Wessex Water, Borough of Poole Council and The Medlycott Trust. Jewson Builders Merchants helped provide materials for the works on one water and students from Sparsholt College helped deliver the work on two sites. Crucially, the impetus for the access improvements came from a survey of its members. The new facilities will really enhance the club’s ability to run coached angling sessions, and the access improvements will also be promoted on Xchange, Dorset County Council’s website listing activities suitable for disabled children and young adults.
Dorchester & District Angling Society (DDAS), Dorset
DDAS, which turned 70 this year and is known as the ‘Friendly Society’, won an AIF grant in the 2016-17 to help fund much-needed access improvements at its Luckfield Lake fishery, including the installation of new angling platforms, replacement of a dilapidated walkway and repairs to potholes on the access road. Club members invested 20 days-worth of volunteer effort to bring the project to fruition and the impact of these improvements has been immediate, encouraging additional visits to the lake and an increase in the club’s membership.
Fir Tree Fishery CIC, Wigan
Fir Tree Fishery CIC works with a wide range of local organisations (including the Think Ahead Community Stroke Group, Oakfield School and Wigan Council) to provide angling-based rehabilitation, enrichment and education services to adults and young people. The results are impressive: in recent years 72% of young learners have progressed to employment or apprenticeships. Following an extremely strong application, the company won a grant towards the costs of installing a timber angling shelter equipped with lighting and heating. This new facility will allow Fir Tree Fishery to extend the delivery of its popular ‘Angling for All’ and ‘Access to Angling’ sessions into the winter months, and provide more than 500 new angling opportunities each year. Not only that, the project will give young BTEC students an opportunity to help design and develop the shelter and gain a qualification around ‘A Project in Sustainability’.
Prince Albert Angling Society (PAAS)
PAAS is one of the largest and most successful angling clubs in Europe. Formed in 1954 the Society now has 8,500 members and access to over 230 different waters. Predation of fish stocks by otters can be expensive, with fish losses amounting to thousands of pounds, so the detection of otters at Ulnes Walton Pool near Leyland, Lancashire, caused great concern to club members. As part of its ongoing fishery development plan, PAAS has used its AIF grant to erect an otter-proof fence around the lake, benefiting from an enormous volunteer effort by club members. To complement this, three members have undergone specialist training so that if an otter becomes trapped within the compound, it can be safely removed using techniques approved by Defra and Natural England.
Nottingham Piscatorial Society
Nottingham Piscatorial Society has spent many years and much money creating a pool, known as Silver Stone, which can be readily accessed by older members and fished safely by the club’s junior section. The pool is also host to numerous events each year to promote angling. Alarmingly, the discovery of dead and damaged fish at the pool signalled otter predation, and after consulting the Environment Agency on the best course of action, the club decided to apply to the AIF for a grant towards the costs of installing an otter-proof fence. The project, which is included in the club’s Sport Development Plan, was aided by other grants, including the Tarmac Landfill Community Fund and the Skipton Building Society Grassroots Fund, as well as a sizeable cash contribution from the club itself. Around 500 hedging plants worth £750 were also provided by the Woodlands Trust. By completing the project the club hope to safeguard 300 angling visits and create up to 1,000 more annually.
Corby Borough Council
In late 2016 the Council commissioned a fish survey on its three-acre boating lake following reports of poor catches and a decline in angling visits. The venue had also encountered problems with water quality during the summer months, which on occasion had necessitated a temporary ban on fishing while the water was treated. To help address these issues and improve the viability of the lake as a fishing venue, funding was sought from the Angling Improvement Fund’s ‘Getting your Fishery Ready for Spring’ scheme to purchase a range of items including additional, larger angling platforms, a small boat, water testing kit and an improved aeration system. The AIF grant has also funded the construction of some large, fully accessible angling platforms which will be used in coached angling sessions at the venue. Encouragingly membership of the lake’s Junior Fishing Club is increasing which is great to see.
EAST OF ENGLAND
Cambridge Fish Preservation & Angling Society (CFPAS) Ltd
The AIF received two very good applications from CFPAS for work on two separate waters. The first grant was awarded for access improvements at Heritage Lake, which although well stocked was proving extremely difficult to get to. In recent times the track to and around the lake had deteriorated badly, deterring members from using this once popular venue. The AIF award has been used to repair the track and pathways and fund some new angling platforms including a double-sized one better suited to disabled anglers. The Society’s second AIF grant of the year, awarded under the ‘Getting your Fishery Ready for Spring’ theme, has funded new platforms and marginal plants. These improvements, together with a stock of fish including prized crucian carp supplied by the Environment Agency, will help turn the Pool from a disused, barren site into a new vibrant fishery, offering engaging and safe fishing for young people and families.
Rochford Angling Club, Essex
Facilitated by a generous donation from a member’s family, the Rochford Angling Club has installed two portacabins and a hut at their main lake near Rayleigh, complete with toilets, and a fully compliant sewage system. However, the venue had no mains water supply which meant they had no drinking water. With their AIF grant the club has had a dedicated metered water supply installed at the entrance to the fishery, and with club members’ skills, has laid underground pipework connecting this to their portacabin and toilet facilities. This project will provide safe hygienic sanitation, washing and drinking facilities benefiting club members and visiting guests.
Darlington Anglers’ Club
Founded in 1894, this club is committed to providing more accessible and safer angling to its 250 members. They offer angling for trout and coarse fish on Cleasby Lake, a former gravel pit on the outskirts of Darlington, as well as fishing on a nine-mile stretch of the River Tees. With its AIF grant, the club has installed new steps, footpaths and three additional angling platforms at Cleasby and will be working with local disabled groups to ensure the new facilities are enjoyed to the full. Since winning the grant the club has also been successful in winning a grant from the Banks Community Fund, administered by the County Durham Community Foundation.
Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council
Over time, a footpath adjacent to the River Leven at Ingleby Hill Farm, Barwick had deteriorated badly, undermined by a landslip and overgrown with undesirable vegetation, including Giant Hogweed. Fewer and fewer people had been prepared to use the path and angling use had plummeted. Through the partnership project ‘River Routes in Stockton’, new steps have been installed at either end of the path and Tees River Trust are attending to the Giant Hogweed problem. Additional improvements funded by an AIF ‘Access for All’ grant include the replacement of boardwalk with a flood-proof section of path, resurfacing of the steps and tree maintenance. This will allow potential users to once again access this stretch of the river.
YORKSHIRE & HUMBERSIDE
Pool Bridge Farm
Following previous success, Pool Bridge Farm won an additional grant under the ‘Access for All’ theme of the AIF to help pay for the creation of three new accessible fishing pegs suitable for disabled anglers, the laying of a level access pathway from the car park and installation of lighting and heating in a newly-built classroom facility. In doing the work, the fishery has been guided by a full site survey commissioned from the British Disabled Angling Association (BDAA) and the new improvements will allow year-round angling tuition to be provided by qualified coaches to people with a range of physical abilities. The project couldn’t have been completed without a massive volunteer effort by fishery members, many providing professional construction skills.
Kilnhurst & District Angling Alliance
Kilnhurst & District Angling Alliance began fishing Baker’s Pond in the 1990s and has carried out a great deal of improvement work at the venue, which originally sat in the grounds of an old steelworks. Now a popular venue based in the middle of the local village it is extensively used by young and older anglers alike. The downside of its popularity was that many of the original earthen angling platforms had deteriorated and become unsafe. The club therefore successfully applied for funding from the ‘Access for All’ theme of the Angling Improvement Fund to replace ten of those pegs with new recycled platforms that anyone can fish from safely. The club has developed a relationship with Rotherham United Football Club’s Community arm with a view to establishing a fishing club for adults with mental health problems.
Aqua Fisheries Ltd
Aqua Fisheries applied for a grant from the AIF to develop the so-called ‘Canoe Pond’ at Upton Warren, an outdoor youth educational centre run by Aztec Adventures, just off the M5 motorway close to Droitwich. The Canoe Pond had become rather neglected, and a poor relation to the main lake offering fantastic specimen fishing, but with the help of the grant has been transformed into a new angling coaching venue with easy access to the rest of the facilities on site. Crucially, the company sought expert advice from the British Disabled Angling Association (BDAA) before starting the work, and, following a big volunteer effort to remove dense vegetation, new fishing platforms at the pond have been built following the BDAA’s best practice guidelines.
Kidderminster & District Angling Association (KDAA)
Known as the KDAA Pool, this old and natural mixed fishery has received a facelift following an award under the AIF’s ‘Access for All’ scheme. A popular venue used by many of the association’s older members, but increasingly difficult to access in places, the grant has been used to improve the poolside path, enabling members to reach the far end of the pool. In addition, the car park has been upgraded and seven new fishing platforms have been installed around the lake.