A war of words has erupted over a sodden ‘swamp’ next to a subway which was controversially filled in last year.

Subways under Marlborough Road, next to Coate Water roundabout, were filled in by Swindon Borough Council last year, despite an overwhelming majority of those who responded to the public consultation expressing a wish for them to remain.

But after heavy rain, land in the vicinity became waterlogged, leading to one resident erecting a sign reading: “The swamp, beware of the ogres.”

The sign has resurrected the bitter controversy surrounding the decision to fill in the underpasses.

Current Labour cabinet member Chris Watts said he was “very disappointed” that the previous Conservative administration filled in the subways prior to the election last year.

But Gary Sumner, who was deputy leader of the authority prior to May last year, said that the decision was a “prudent, long-term decision”.

Cllr Watts, who is the Labour portfolio holder for the environment and transport, said: "We were very disappointed when the previous administration filled in the subways at great cost and against the wishes of the public.

“They had stated that the subways were end of life but there was no structural survey to back up this claim.

“The subways historically had problems with flooding caused by a Thames Water asset spilling sewage into to system and blocking the council owned pumps.

“When Thames Water finally resolved their issues, the subways were viable and should have been maintained as the safest way for families to access Coate Water.

“We were horrified when the subways were decommissioned by filling them with concrete with work starting prior to the last election.

“It is not unreasonable to suspect that this will have change the dynamics of the drainage that could be contributing to the issues being reported.

“I understand residents' frustration and we will seek to resolve the issues.”

Responding, Cllr Sumner, now the Conservative group leader at SBC, said: “The decision to fill in the subway at Coate (and Kirby Close) was taken on the basis that the structure was expected to cost the Council up to £4m to re-build to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists to modern standards and they would have exceeded their expected lifespan, versus the £1.8m available for this scheme.

"It was therefore a prudent, long-term decision and I’m not surprised that the Labour Cabinet member takes a shorter-term view.

"Crime and a reduction in anti-social behaviour were also a factor with 4 crimes reported between 2016-2021 at Coate and 3 at Kirby Close.

"The Local Transport Plan 2011-2026 notes ‘unattractive subways on the walking and cycling network’ as a known issue within East Swindon.

"In terms of flooding, this is a low spot in the area and in Thames Water’s network.

"We worked with Thames Water to resolve their flooding issues and I would imagine that this would be a first line of enquiry for officers now, when considering the current issue.

"The area referred to as the ‘swamp’ by a resident is not a pedestrian route and lies lower than the surrounding land, and in that case performs some attenuation for the surrounding area."

He also stated that the toucan crossing is more suitable for cyclists, pedestrians and those of limited mobility compared to the subway.

Residents too have been getting involved in the debate, with many who live close to the area upset about the state of the land.

Andy Brice, 57, lives in Lawn described the land which has been flooded as a “swamp” and “a hideous eyesore”.

He said: “It is a disgrace.

“They have done something that the local people didn’t want, it’s disgusting and it is a real eye sore.”

Another resident, Simone Hannemann, 59, supports the decision made to fill in the subway, which often flooded, and described it as “an unpleasant, dark and smelly subway”.

She also said: “I'm grateful that the council ended the misery of crossing Queens Drive for pedestrians and cyclists.”