£100,000 plan to get rid of Gosport pond pong

Walpole Park in Gosport
Walpole Park in Gosport
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THE awful smell that comes from Walpole Park’s ponds each summer could soon be a thing of the past.

That’s after councillors agreed to spend more than £100,000 to clear 100 tonnes of sediment contaminated with swan faeces from one pond.

Gosport Borough Council’s chief executive said the mess has been caused by people at Cockle Ponds feeding the swans bread, which they cannot fully digest.

Ian Lycett said: ‘We’re going to clean out the pond completely, and in doing that, we’ll clean the pipes that connect the two ponds which will help with circulation.

‘We also believe we can then get our contractor to once or twice a year go into the pond and clear the pipes.’

The council will pay out £109,244 to drain both the ponds in the park and remove the contaminated sediment from the northern pond.

If there is more than 100 tonnes then it will pay more.

The authority will also pay £27,654 for temporary repairs to footways, which have been fenced off due to subsidence.

The northern pond contamination comes as the number of swans in the area increased, the meeting heard.

Mr Lycett said this could be stopped by installing a floating island in the northern pond to encourage a mating pair to nest.

It is hoped the territorial pair would ward off any single unmatched males.

Mr Lycett added: ‘What we have there is all the unattached swans who are congregating there and they don’t go away in the winter so they’re not mating.

‘It’s a sort of 18-30 club for swans.’

The floating island will be installed in 2015.

Natural England is paying £4,500 for permanent signs and artwork telling people not to feed the swans bread.

But Cllr Stephen Philpott said: ‘With the best will in the world, people are not going to stop feeding the swans.

‘They don’t realise they’re doing harm.

‘All the signage we can put up isn’t going to stop that.’

Council leader Cllr Mark Hook added: ‘There is a little bit of education to be done on what people should be feeding the swans.

‘I’d like to think the signage up there will discourage people from feeding with bread.’

Some councillors voiced concern the number of swans would be reduced.

The work is due to be finished ahead of the Gosport Model Yacht and Boat Club’s week-long biannual national competition in August.

Robert Hobbs, president of the club, said he is pleased the smell would be gone by then.

He said: ‘It’s sometimes not very pleasant when it’s been a very hot day.

‘The nationals are very important, they have been sailed each year since 1923.’

The race is held at another location on alternate years.

The Cockle Ponds are a site of special scientific interest and contain rare species of shrimp and sea anemone.