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Image credit: Village pond, Westham (2005) Simon Carey On the corner of Peelings Lane and Mortain Road. This view looks west towards the houses of Montfort Close. © Copyright Simon Carey and licensed for reuse under the terms of the Creative Commons Licence

Letter to the editor.

We are hoping that a satisfactory response comes from the parish council as so far the reply we have received to the letter below has failed to answer any of the questions.

Village pond should be first on list of priorities

Dear Mrs Stevens,

Just today whilst walking by Westham Pond my dog found a dead rat – it is just near the parish council notice board – there is also at least one dead fish so please arrange to have them both removed.

With reference to the flooding in the back gardens I wish to point out that in the last phone call with Graham Kean, Wealden Estates Management team, he was asking about the photos he had been sent from Chaffins and he wanted to rod the inlet pipe from the pond end.

This is obviously a far more sensible idea than the hit and miss idea of using dye especially with the 76cm of silt present in the pond. As you are working closely with Graham and have a contractor standing by we are surprised that, yet again, nothing has happened. We would be grateful for a reason.

A local professional pond contractor offered to come and talk to us about the best way to bring the pond back from the pitiable state it is now in.

He was already aware of the blocked pipe/grating being a long term resident and felt, as did the gentleman from South East Water Environment Department, that the lack of spring water along with the 76cm of silt at the west end of the pond must be in a large part responsible.

Running spring water and less silt means there would have been more water in the pond and therefore it would have been better able to withstand this summers heatwave.

The contractor asked when the 2012 refurbishment took place where did Land and Water access the pond.

We showed him the bank in the Close under which is the inlet pipe from the spring. It does now seem obvious, surely to everyone involved, that as Land and Water did not concern themselves with either inlet or outlet, this confirmed in a phone call, that this was when the damage could well have taken place as the flooding has become worse every year since then.

People and some machinery were constantly travelling up and down the bank under which the pipe and grating are situated. We feel we need to know more about the schedule of works which is why you received a FOI request for papers etc dealing with Westham Pond on 17/8/2018 dating back to June 2011.

Whoever is responsible the time has come to deal with this problem. It is nearly six years since it was first reported and this is a lack of care and maintenance.

We have read closely the minutes of the council meetings and bring to your attention

February 2013 – Peter Marshall recommends dredging/rodding/tree and bank clearance.
We have an e-mail from the county archeologist stating that dredging is possible.
Heritage Lottery Funding is available.

September 2017 – 87 – Councillor Garner speaks of “unwarranted criticism of pond management”
Maybe he would like to amend that statement now.

November 2017 -124 -Evan Jones an ecologist offers help ??

November 2017 – 129 Councillor Fiona Durling asks for a pond management plan.

May 2018 – 21 – Mike Haffner asks for management of the pond to be put in the hands of a professional. Refused.

The parish council can no longer ignore what they have allowed to happen to the pond.

We are hoping that the parish council are ashamed of the stance they have taken and will call an emergency meeting at Westham Village Hall in early September where the petition can be presented and the village can be reassured that professional advice will be taken and adhered to from now on and the pond will be first on the list of priorities to be dealt with this year and throughout every year.

Having read the press statement, now in the box by the pond, we feel we need to point out it is misleading at best and inaccurate at worst.

The residents have never felt the flooding is because of the pond. It is because the pipe to which our properties have NO access has not been looked after.

One end is in the pavement in Pevensey Park Road and the other in the west bank of the pond. A shared responsibility between Wealden, who granted the planning permission in 1960, and the parish council who are responsible for the pond.

This means there is a 1 in 2 chance that IT IS the problem of the parish council. We would appreciate you publishing a retraction and apology.

Thank you,

Christine Fenner
address supplied