Council has novel approach to dealing with pond life

Council has novel approach to dealing with pond life

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Paddock Wood Pond

With the country in the grip of a housing shortage, one council is doing all it can to avoid having to find new homes for dozens of ‘displaced residents’.

But in this case they’re not actually humans, they’re fish.

They reside in the pond at Putlands leisure centre in Paddock Wood that is currently home to a shoal of goldfish and a handful of koi carp, as well as rud, roach and perch.

But as the pond is due to be dredged next week, all its inhabitants have to be evacuated.

Paddock Wood Town Council chairman Sarah Hamilton said: “We need to dredge the pond and remove all the built-up sludge in order to increase its drainage capacity.

“Before that can happen, all of the fish have to be removed.”

But the council will have to take evasive action to ensure all the fish can return home.

Town clerk Nichola Reay said: “Under environmental law we aren’t allowed to return non-indigenous fish to the pond – to a waterway where they could get into the main watercourses.

“In order to avoid having to rehome these fish, which could lead to their demise if unsuccessful, we plan to register the pond as a fishery.”

Once the pond is a registered fishery, the council can apply for a permit that will allow it to re-introduce these non-native species.

Mrs Reay said: “The pond already has fishing platforms and it’s been used for fishing before, so it’s not an issue.

“We have to apply for a permit and make sure the pond is secure so the fish can’t get out through the drains.”

Regulations

The fact the fish came to call the pond home in the first place has been blamed on the controversial practice of handing them out as fairground prizes.

Cllr Hamilton said: “Sadly it’s something that’s slipped through the welfare bill, and they are still given out at fetes and fairs.

“People have put them in the pond in the past, something that has caused real trouble in lakes in the States.

Mrs Reay added: “Regulations say that as long as there’s an adult present, a child can win a goldfish.
“That means you have people winning prizes who don’t necessarily have anywhere to keep them.”

The work on the pond is due to take about a week, during which time its inhabitants, netted by Mid Kent Fisheries, will be looked after in tanks.

If the council’s plan to re-introduce the fish to Putlands pond is unsuccessful, it will be appealing for local people who do have somewhere to keep them to come forward and help re-house them.