Main Pond Restoration
REPORT OF MEETING RE THE OAKLEY POND
Do we want to lose our pond? No, no, no!. Do we think the cost is excessive? Yes, yes, yes!. That was the unanimous feeling expressed right at the beginning of the meeting that 30 people attended.
The reasons the pond has fallen into disrepair was explained. The main problem being the erosion of the banks causing the basin of the pond to silt up. Also, the vegetation around the perimeter of the pond has become extremely untidy and has outgrown its planting areas. Much of the vegetation is non-native British and so is inappropriate for the pond. The island in the middle of the pond is very untidy and should be replaced by a floating island which would carry the duck house.
The question was asked as to why the pond had deteriorated so much. It is largely because there has been no planned maintenance over a considerable period. The Parish Council plan now to budget for four days during the year to be spent on maintenance, one in each quarter, and for a sum of money to be put aside each year to build up a fund so that when the next major work needs doing money is immediately available.
There was considerable discussion about the potential toxicity of the water and silt in the pond. It was felt that this is likely to be low level because there is little evidence of any oily contamination on the surface. What cannot be seen is the heavy metal contaminants that would come from car tyres. Testing the water needs to be done prior to any work being carried out to determine whether the water must be tankard away, expensive, or can be pumped into the existing sewage system. It was suggested that a local university might be interested in exploring how the toxicity toxicity of the water varies with the season.
Alfred Burgess, a pond specialist, explained how the banks should be re-profiled and the basin of the pond repaired. He told the meeting a big digger with the long arm would profile the bank at an angle of less than 45° to make it safer than it is now. He estimated that no more than two days would be needed to do this and the cost of hiring a suitable digger would probably be around £5000. This provoked discussion about how the high figures of £80-£100,000 had been generated. It was suggested that companies quoting these prices either did not want to do the work or were profiteering. This prompted considerable discussion about how funding could be raised. A request has already been put in for support from the local infrastructure fund and from Hampshire County Council but at this stage it is not known whether these will be successful or not. Some work has been done on looking at national lottery grants and how funding could be obtained from them. Mr Burgess said there is lots of money out there if you go out seeking it in the correct way. This is clearly something which will require considerable effort soon. It was suggested that the developers that are currently building so many houses in the village should be approached and asked to contribute. Regrettably any S106 money being generated by these developments has already been allocated, but future developments should be watched very closely for potential financial support. The idea of raising the money through the council precept was discussed. The advantage of using this route would be that all households in the village would contribute equally and providing the right level is set, money could be raised in as little as two years. Once the required funding is available, the precept would be set back to its previous level. This has not been fully discussed by the Parish Council yet but will be soon. In principle, the meeting felt that this was a good way of raising the money. It would certainly save a lot of effort chasing grants. Done in this way work could possibly be done as early as the summer of 2021.
The general feeling of the meeting was that we should try and keep the pond very much as it is now. If this was done costs should be much more easily controlled and kept down. All agreed the pond is a unique feature of the village and must be maintained. Builders and developers are very quick to use photographs of the pond and its surroundings in their promotional literature.
The question of volunteer labour was raised. Some contractors are quite happy that volunteers could work with them, others were not. Mr Burgess said that one area where volunteers could make a great contribution would be in the planting of the vegetation round the pond. He said that in other projects he had worked on, local groups like scouts guides and schoolchildren had been used for planting.
The next steps are to get an environmental survey done and prepare a tender document. The plan is to break the tender down into a series of discrete steps with each been costed. The initial tender document will be circulated so that as many people as possible have an opportunity to make an input. The parish council would then be able to confirm and issue the tender document to interested parties at some time in the future.
Minutes of the meeting will be circulated to all present and posted on Spotted Oakley Facebook and in link so that as many people as possible can see them.
The environment working party thanked everyone for attending and for their very positive comments and suggestions. A request was made for a small group of people to assist the environment working party in pursuing this project. Three people volunteered their services.
The meeting closed just after 8:30pm.
Since the meeting several other contractors have been to see the pond and a dedicated e-mail address has been set up for the project. The Parish Council will use this to keep everybody informed on how the project is progressing. Comments and suggestions will be gratefully received, and all e-mails will be replied to but please don’t expect an instant reply. The e-mail address is:
Readers of Link will have noticed in the October editorial the meeting agreed that the island would not be replaced. This is proving controversial so the Parish Council Environment Working Party would love to hear your views on this. Please use the e-mail address shown above to let us know what you think.
Stephen Harding, Katy Richards, Rowena Smith
Oakley & Deane Parish Council Environment Working Party