Campaigners get ready for debate over South Pond

Campaign lesders Mel Bilham and Linda Bateson
Campaign lesders Mel Bilham and Linda Bateson

Protesters calling for a public debate on the controversial restoration work carried out at Midhurst’s South Pond are holding a campaign meeting next Thursday, (October 27) to plan their next moves.

Campaign leaders Mel Bilham and Linda Bates who gathered the support of 600 people when they launched a petition calling for action earlier this year, have now formed a committee. They are inviting members of the public to join them at a ‘get together’ in The Willow Room at The Grange Leisure Centre at 6pm.

They want to organise representations for the public meeting they demanded so people can air their views to pond owners Chichester District Council, the South Downs National Park and the South Pond Group who have been working on the restoration in partnership.

Mel told the Observer: “The idea is to hear from everybody what they want to happen in the future, so we can go prepared to the public meeting, when the date is announced.

“We know the pond can’t go back to how it was originally although that’s what many people want. But Linda and I would like to see the silt removed so the water can flow properly.

“We would like to see those awful reeds removed - with maybe a few left in the Spread Eagle corner where it gets messy and around the island where the birds nest. We want the whole of the south side cleared of the silt, the reeds and the faggots which were put in the water. And we want to hear what other members of the public would like to see happen.”

Following the angry public event at the Grange at the end of September when members of the public said the format denied them a voice, Mel said she was anxious to “take the heat out of the situation and find a way forward.”

“People had every reason to be angry because it was not the public meeting they asked for. But that has now been recognised and now we are getting our chance. So we want people put their views forward in a calm and constructive way, so we can all work together to do something about the current state of the pond.”

“When we started our petition it came to light the South Pond group and the district council were unhappy with the reeds and there was going to be an investigation into how they came to be planted. We want to work together to do something everyone can be happy about.”

It is hoped the public meeting will take place in the second week of November.

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