Campaigners win battle of the giant reeds at Midhurst

Chichester District Council (CDC) has pledged to resolve reed planting issues at South Pond after a meeting with campaigners.

Mel Bilham and Linda Bateson launched a petition in June calling for a public debate on the pond after growing concern that restoration work had turned it into a ‘dangerous eyesore’.

In less than three weeks it was signed by 600 people and now they have voiced their concerns at a meeting hosted by Midhurst Town Council and attended by the South Pond Group leading the restoration, CDC which owns the pond and the South Downs National Park Authority which has also been involved.

A spokesman for CDC said: “It was quickly realised that concerns were shared by those present.

“As part of the brief we asked for the planting to be low growing so that everyone could continue to enjoy the views across the pond.

“We made sure that this was a key part of the brief, following public consultation. Just like everyone else, we were very disappointed when we discovered that the contractor had not followed these instructions.”

He said all the groups helped to fund the project, which involved dredging the pond and creating new wildlife habitats and were disappointed with the result.

“We have asked the contractor to resolve this problem and are currently in talks with them about this.”

He said residents would be kept informed of progress.

Barbara Coote chairman of the South Pond Group added: “I’m really pleased we had the opportunity to meet because we can now focus on working together to achieve the balance between wildlife and people’s enjoyment of the pond.”

Mel Bilham said: “We voiced our concerns about the unsafe the unsightly reeds and were thrilled by the positive attitude of everyone and the fact there will be a public meeting for everyone to have their say.”

Town council chairman Mark Purves added: “I hope we can now work together to make South Pond something we can all be proud of again.”

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