Support still growing for South Pond debate petition in Midhurst

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Support is growing for a petition calling for a public debate on the controversial restoration work carried out at Midhurst’s South Pond.

It was launched by Mel Bilham and Linda Bateson, because they said so many people had expressed anger and disappointment at how the pond looked.

They claimed the large banks of reeds obscured the water, encouraged rats to nest and posed a danger because the water’s edge was no longer visible.

They also claim the restoration work has discouraged wildlife and said they launched the petition because townspeople felt nobody was listening to them.

Mel told the Observer: “People are very passionate about this and we have nearly 300 signatures already.

“I do hope all these people turn out to a public meeting.

She added: “We are up against people who are virtually calling us liars. Despite what some people say I was involved at the original South Pond meetings and voiced my concern and you don’t have to have a conservation degree to see the reeds have gone horribly wrong and recognise a health hazard and a danger when you see it.”

In a debate on the South Downs National Park public forum last year, editor of the online community magazine ‘Midhurst Pages’ John Trueman said iconic views of the duck pond had disappeared.

Backing the petition for a public debate he said: “They must be recovered as soon as possible.

“It’s no longer a tourist attraction. Biodiversity has to take a back seat.”

Mr Trueman claimed the original SPACE (South Pond Active Community Endeavour) group’s pledge to create a wildlife habitat and a space for everyone to enjoy had disappeared and the new South Pond group had a totally different ethos and priorities.

“Beauty or aesthetics just disappeared in the morning mist and the pond’s traditional ‘look’ has been discarded in favour of biodiversity. Clare’s pledge was ignored.”

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