A meeting of Alton Town Council to discuss the future of Kings Pond which was scheduled to take place at the Alton Maltings Centre last night (Wednesday) was cancelled.

The council said: “At the extraordinary meeting of the former town council in January this year, funds were reserved and set aside for Kings Pond future works, and it was resolved that various technical and feasibility studies should be carried out.

“In accordance with those council resolutions from January, research and investigation continues. The project is at the data gathering stage. Information is required to enable both planning and financial assessment of future works and the management of Kings Pond.

“A topographical survey will be completed so there are accurate plans of the area. A hydrographic survey is being carried out to establish the depths of the pond and an assessment made of the depth of sediment that must be dealt with. Silt and sediment samples will be taken and analysed. An engineering assessment of the weir and sluice will also be carried out. It will also be important to assess the impact of possible future works, so the investigation plans include ecological and tree surveys.

“Statutory approvals from several authorities will likely be required for any future works to the pond. These approvals are being investigated together with options for the management and planning of future projects.

“As a result, at this time the council is clearly not in a position to make any proposals as to what future works may be undertaken at the site. Councillors are not ready to present the public with the findings of yet incomplete investigations.

“As already resolved by the council in January, no works will be carried out until the results of investigations and feasibility studies and any project or management plans have been put back for public consultation.”

Save Kings Pond group leader Andrew Kuttner called the cancellation of last night’s meeting “an appalling abrogation of democracy”.

Before the election Labour promised to protect the pond, and he said: “The expectation had to be a sizeable public presence being able to rapturously applaud the salvation of Kings Pond, a party standing by its pre-election pledge at the very first opportunity and, from Labour’s perspective, being transformed from nonentities in Alton to Alton’s much-favoured party.

“But no, the bubble was burst with less than a week’s notice. And just by a piece in Alton Town Council’s hardly-read Altonian – many have never even heard of it. 

“The excuse – more studies are needed, which we fear will be biased towards the offline option. Why has Labour been persuaded not to enact on its pledge to protect Kings Pond?”