The Environment Agency has been forced to defend itself after questions were raised about the condition of the Gossmore recreation grounds as a result of its flood alleviation scheme in Marlow.

At a meeting of the town’s Chamber of Commerce on Monday, former mayor Jocelyn Towns said the town council could not support the £9.5 million scheme due to “major problems” with the football pitches, which she described as a “swimming pool”.

She said: “The EA [Environment Agency] did ask us to attend their launch, which we declined, and to give them a statement about how pleased we are with the work, which we couldn’t because we are not.

“This is ongoing. We’ve still got major problems with football pitch, which is more like a swimming pool.

“We are getting together with the sports club and the various residents that are impacted to meet with the EA.”

It comes after the EA excavated through Pergola Fields and the Gossmore playing fields for the construction of the earth bund to tie into the new wall.

It is also restoring the ground level for the two football pitches on the site.

In a statement, the EA said the condition of the ground is part of the reinstatement work still being carried out in the area, and that the football pitches will not be ready for the start of the next season.

A spokesman said: “We confirm that the construction work on the flood scheme has been completed and the flood scheme is now operational. There is still reinstatement work ongoing and there have been problems with the recreation ground flooding.

“However, the flooding at the recreation ground is not as a result of the flood scheme not functioning as planned and indeed it is on the other side of the area being protected by the scheme.

“Since completing the earthworks across the football pitches on Gossmore Recreation Ground, a problem with the drainage of the pitches has been identified.

“We have installed a drainage system below the ground – however it appears that rain water is not reaching this system so the area has become very wet.

“We are currently investigating the reason for this issue which will then allow us to identify what needs to be done to rectify the problem. Results of the investigations are due by mid-March.

“Once we have identified the solution and implemented it seeding is unlikely to happen before April or May. The grass will then need four to five months to establish before the area can be opened to the public.

“We are of course aware that this will result in the football pitches not being ready for the start of the next season and understand that this will have disappointed the users.

“We are sorry that there has been a delay but confirm that we are working to find and deliver a solution as soon as we can.”