A row over a reference to a “lunatic fringe” in the Kings Pond Draft Management Plan led to an Alton town councillor apologising for using foul language towards a resident.
On page 25 of the draft management plan, county dragonfly recorder Dr David Murdoch wrote a report on his visit to the Kings Pond BioBlitz on June 26, 2021.
Describing the pond as “disgusting and a health hazard”, Dr Murdoch added: “A proportion of residents are actively trying to thwart sensible measures taken for the good of all. Sadly it may take a serious illness or a death linked to the pond to persuade the lunatic fringe to behave in a civilised manner.”
During the Kings Pond debate at the Alton Town Council meeting held in Alton Maltings on January 18, speaker Maggie Thirlway said: “Those opposing taking the pond offline are not a lunatic fringe. It was in your management plan.” Cllr Lewis Jones replied: “No-one has referred to you as a lunatic fringe.”
Resident David Dodd approached Cllr Jones to point out the “lunatic fringe” comment in the plan. At the end of a brief exchange inaudible to the public, Cllr Jones used words for which he was asked to apologise by East Hampshire District Council’s legal team.
In a letter to Mr Dodd, Cllr Jones said: “I apologise unreservedly for my use of intemperate language towards you after the end of the Alton Town Council meeting at the Maltings on January 18.
“I recognise that this is language that should not be employed by anyone elected to public office and will respect this in future alongside my respect for all other aspects of the code of conduct.”
Mr Dodd told the Herald: “The expression ‘the lunatic fringe’ is obviously there as evidence in support of the council’s preferred option to take Kings Pond offline. That an elected official was not aware of the contents of their official document is itself a matter of concern.”
Speaking to the Herald, Cllr Jones said: “I wrote on Mr Dodd’s document that as the comment was by a third party, I was not sure what more I could do. I didn’t add, as I should, that it was his inference that he was part of the ‘lunatic fringe’, not any direct accusation.”