Has the curse of Preston Park struck again? Scores of newts, toads and frogs die after council cleans Brighton park pond (From The Argus)
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Has the curse of Preston Park struck again? Scores of newts, toads and frogs die after council cleans Brighton park pond
WITH VIDEO: A conservation expert has blamed council workers for the deaths of scores of mating amphibians.
Dr Keith Corbett estimates 50 amphibians have died following “poorly timed” and “careless” maintenance work at the Rotunda Pond in Brighton’s Preston Park.
Staff at Brighton and Hove City Council set about cleaning and fixing a leak in the pond during the winter and then, crucially, the breeding season.
Dr Corbett, who received an MBE for his ecology work over a period of 45 years, explained amphibians return to their ponds during this time of the year in order to mate and lay their eggs.
He said: “They shouldn’t be doing work at this time of the year. It’s careless and I would expect them to know better.
“Amphibians, and in particular the newts, have already started to return to the pond but there is no water.
“They can’t survive in those conditions, let alone mate and lay eggs.”
Dr Corbett contacted the local authority four times over two weeks but said he received no response.
He also contacted councillor Pete West, chairman of the council’s environment, transport and sustainability committee.
Dr Corbett visited the park with nets and a bucket to transport the dying newts to a nearby pond.
Last year the council came under fire for work done at a similar time of year on the nearby Preston Park Rockery.
With work overrunning on the site, staff failed to keep a supply of water, leading to the deaths of scores of mating toads.
Goldfish, perch and koi carp, who were moved into special tanks for the work, also died after their water was not kept fresh.
Dr Corbett added: “Last year was a disaster and I would have expected them to have learnt from it. But clearly not.”
A spokesman for the council described the Rotunda Pond incident as “disappointing” for both staff and the public.
He said: “The intention was not to be doing any work at all on the pond at this time of year – we’re well aware of the breeding season.
“We cleaned the pond and fixed some cracks over the winter as it needed maintenance.
"However, it has since started leaking. So we need to fix it and expect to have that done within a month – otherwise there would be no water and no habitat for the rest of the breeding season.
“In the meantime we’ll set up a temporary pond and volunteers and staff will be out looking for newts and rescuing them – either putting them in a pond at the other end of the park of into the temporary one. We’ve already saved about 200.”
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