Calls for answers over funding of South Pond restoration in Midhurst

Campaigners calling for a public debate on the controversial restoration work carried out at Midhurst's South Pond will get their chance to speak on Monday, December 12.

Monday, 28th November 2016, 2:35 pm
Updated Tuesday, 6th December 2016, 3:14 pm
Mel Bilham and Linda Bateson pictured earlier this year in front of South Pond showing the reeds

The public meeting will take place from 6pm-7pm in the Methodist Church in North Street and it will be chaired by Cllr Roger Barrow, cabinet member for contract services at Chichester District Counci (CDC).

Top of the campaigners’ priority list is a call for details of the restoration funding.

Campaign leaders Mel Bilham and Linda Bateson who gathered the support of 600 people when they launched a petition calling for action earlier this year have welcomed the public meeting.

They have formed a campaign committee and have been preparing their questions for the meeting with representatives of The South Pond Group, Chichester District Council and the South Downs National Park Authority.

Nearly £70,000 in grant funding was given to the restoration project including £20,000 from the national park, £18,000 from Chichester District Council and £25,000 from West Sussex County Council’s Operation Watershed funding.

Grants also came from the Environment Agency, The Grange Community Association and Midhurst Town Council.

“What we would really like to know,” said Mel, “is has all this money been spent or is there any left over to help put the pond back to being the jewel in Midhurst’s crown? We also want a detailed breakdown of exactly all the money has been spent so far.”

She said objectors wanted the complete removal of all the reeds around it and were also concerned the silt in it was dangerous and they believed, causing flooding in heavy downpours so people could not walk round it.

In addition there was concern, said Mel that the flow of water had been virtually stopped to the right of the bridge through the deliberate build up of silt, despite the fact it was reported the water quality was poor.

The campaign group is also asking to see a plan of what remedial work is to be done.

Have you checked out our new Christmas section yet?

It’s packed with ideas and tips to ensure you make the most out of the festive season.

There’s recipes, suggestions for presents and everything from choosing your tree to recycling your packaging and paper.