More than 100 residents turned up and many of them spoke passionately about saving their pond, which appeared to be under threat from a proposal to separate the pond from the River Wey outlined in a draft management plan produced by fisheries specialist Aquamaintain.
But councillors seemed keen to keep their options open and obtain far more information before committing themselves to making any decisions about the future of the pond. They stressed that nothing major was likely to happen before the local council elections on May 4.
Of the six recommendations put before the council, four were passed unanimously.
These were to set aside £250,000 for any future work on Kings Pond, to conduct a technical and financial assessment of the dredging option, to set aside £25,000 for a number of technical and financial assessments, and to appoint a project manager – fee up to £2,500 – to run the tender process for the technical and financial assessments.
Two more recommendations – to conduct a technical and financial assessment of removing the outlet weir to enable the option of separating the pond and river to be considered further, and to defer considering a technical and financial assessment of the separation option until the outcome of the outlet weir assessment is known – were carried with Cllr Matthew Bayliss voting against.
And a seventh recommendation, proposed and carried by six votes to two, stated that once all the technical and financial assessments are concluded the results will go back to the public for a further consultation period.
Several speakers referred to Kings Pond as “the jewel in the crown of Alton”. Cllr Graham Hill said: “It is the crown – it’s that important.”