Our Town Council last Wednesday debated the condition of West Park Lakes following complaints from users of the facility. Former Councillor Maud Gray spoke on behalf of the residents and said she understood why there were large amounts of algae due to weather etc, but could not understand why the Town Council did not clean the lake regularly to maintain its attractiveness.
During the debate Counc Dan Summers agreed and asked the Council to return the lakes to what was once the pride of the West Ward, and suggesting aeration could solve the problem.
In a lengthy report Steve Cooper Environment Officer explained the situation, stating why the algae and other pond life existed in the shallow 18” deep lakes. He believed this was an important asset to the town as a natural habitat. Some of the blame was aimed at visitors who feed bread to the ducks not realising that rotting bread can affect the water. Neighbours might also be guilty of disposing their motor oil down the drains which is against the law and pollutes the water.
The officer insisted the lakes were cleaned on a daily basis, but Coun Gray doubted this as he is a frequent dog walker in the park and has never seen any cleaning activity taking place. He had visited lakes in other towns who did not have this problem, but this was explained away by the officer who said they were much deeper in comparison. Large amounts of algae had been removed by trawling a net, but was heavy work. Counc Gray said the only way to remove it was by pitch fork.
Since it ceased to be a Boating Lake the issue seemed to revolve around whether it was a public amenity or a haven for wildlife. The latter was apparently easier and cheaper to operate, but when did this change take place and were the public consulted?
With the gorgeous summer we had would it not have been nice to see children paddling and using inflatables in the lakes? But then the issue of Health & Safety comes into play with the council liable for any accidents. Perhaps the Council could consider having a separate small area of the lakes for this use, with a fountain? This would be safer and easily managed by part time summer staff.
Councillors Chandran and Summers volunteered to help clean away the algae and thought residents would also offer their time to see an  improvement. Other councillors had researched the problem and suggested embracing the lakes’ natural state by introducing more plants to help aeration was the answer.