A HAMPSHIRE charity has closed this morning as it prepares to launch a major legal battle with civic chiefs.

The Disabled Sailors Association claims it has been blighted by flooding problems ever since council workers replaced a nearby grass verge with a gravel pathway.

Now the charity, which provides boating experiences for 2,000 disabled people every year, is planning to sue Hampshire County Council for £250,000 claiming water damage during heavy rain is costing them £5,000 a week.

This morning, the doors were closed at the association's Cranleigh Road headquarters in Fareham.

Chairman Mike Wood said: “The flood water in our premises can reach four centimetres deep throughout the building and apart from the mess and damage caused it is very dangerous for disabled people with mobility problems.

“We have to turn the electricity off to stop people being electrocuted and if its dark it's a real problem.

“I guess if we take everything into consideration its costing our charity about £5,000 per week at the moment but the damage to our reputation and credibility is of much greater value, this will very seriously affect our fund raising and I cant see how we can continue.”

Mr Wood said he had been told by Hampshire County Council that the verge work was carried out for safety reasons.

But he claims the 20-year-old charity has suffered ever since and that only way it can continue is if the authority “meets its responsibilities promptly”.

The closure comes just weeks after thieves stole thousands of pounds of radio controlled boats, helicopters and cars goods from the association's charity shop.