AN ANGLER has accused the council of “condemning fish to a shameless and sickening death” after warning the authority of a disaster months ago.

Stranded fish were left flapping in the mud as the water levels in Falmer Village Pond receded in the recent heatwave.

Images and video sent in by readers showed fish carcasses being picked at by seagulls while dying carp writhed and gasped on dry land. Other fish waited sluggishly in the shallows as the waterline dropped at the lake near the Amex Stadium.

But one man said he contacted Brighton and Hove City Council – which owns the pond and is responsible for it – more than two months ago and believes they should have done more.

The Argus: Photo: Verity KeeleyPhoto: Verity Keeley

Angler Robert Hinton, 73, wrote to the council and contacted the Environment Agency in May. He reported seeing around 40 common and ghost carp in the pond “clearly in great distress” long before the reports of dead fish came in this month.

He suggested pumping oxygen into the water in an urgent email to the council’s environmental health department.

Mr Hinton said they passed his message to the City Parks department, who in turn passed the email to the Rangers Team, who promised to contact Mr Hinton once it had an update.

The Environment Agency also said it had given advice to the council before the hot spell.

The Argus: Photo: Clare SealeyPhoto: Clare Sealey

Mr Hinton was astounded. He blamed the council, and accused it of “condemning fish to a shameless and sickening death” through its inaction.

“It is as if the loss of many fish of considerable size and numerous small ones is of no consequence.”

He suggested that if the council cannot look after the “treasured local beauty spot,” it should give up ownership.

In the past, the fire brigade has been called to replenish the pond.

Falmer resident and supervisor at the neighbouring Park Farm Shop Laurie Harriott said crews had previously shot water into the pond from a cherry picker.

But last week, the city council told The Argus filling the ponds from the water main was “not an option as Southern Water are already struggling to meet consumer demand”.

It said that “even with the best will in the world the water in these ponds slowly evaporates,” adding the problem would only get worse as the climate crisis continues. 

Yesterday, a council spokesperson said: "We had approached the Environment Agency for advice a few weeks ago as we were concerned that the pond was no longer a suitable place for the fish. The EA provided advice but the solution is not an immediate one.

"The advice was that we would need a licence from the EA to relocate the fish and in order to get a licence we would have to get 30 of the fish tested to check they were disease free and find a suitable alternative location.

"The team were working on it but had been unable to implement prior to the extreme hot weather.

"Unfortunately, we believe that there are now less than 30 fish left, and the recipient we were in discussion with cannot now take the fish, so this is no longer an option.

"We will continue to do our best to try to save the remaining fish and we are continuing our discussions with the EA about options available.”