The chair of Alton Town Council’s open spaces committee claims there is “absolutely no truth” to fears it wants to destroy Kings Pond for wildlife.

Commenting on the draft Kings Pond Management Plan, Cllr Suzie Burns said: “The exact opposite is true. The council has worked with our consultants and a number of experts such as the Environment Agency, the RSPB and local ecologists in formulating these proposals.”

A public consultation on the plan began on Monday. It proposes separating the River Wey from the pond – known as taking the pond off-line – and keeping the remaining water as a single pond or a series of smaller ponds and wetland areas similar to the Flood Meadows.

But former town councillor Gideon Cristofoli said: “I think my greatest concern about the proposal to take the pond off-line is that there are periods of the year when the River Wey does not run at all. Currently it is completely dry and there is no water flowing through Flood Meadows.

“The pond would therefore be nothing more than a dried-out mud pit, were it not for the river filling it, during the summer. It is currently the only open body of water in Alton. There is a great deal of concern for the wildlife. If the pond were to go completely dry all the fish would die, and most of the birds.”

Bob Booker, another former town councillor, said: “Have a look at the old 1666 map of the town and river and you will not see any pond.”