After gaining control of Alton Town Council without firing a shot in the political battle, Labour has announced its stand on the town’s most contentious issue – Kings Pond.

In a statement looking forward to the local council elections on May 4, the party said: “Labour believes passionately in preserving the open spaces that are used by and cherished by the people of Alton.

“We promise to work with local people to protect Alton’s precious local amenities and our beautiful open spaces.”

It said Labour councillors would assess any future management plans for Kings Pond according to three criteria:

Will the proposal maintain, improve or worsen the biodiversity of the site?

Will the proposal maintain, improve or worsen the function of the site as a public amenity?

Will the financial cost have an adverse impact on the wider town?

After the 2019 election Labour had one Alton town councillor. But now it has four, elected unopposed, at least a fifth to come as two Labour candidates are standing against one Conservative for two seats in Holybourne, and knows that three of the 13 seats will be vacant, guaranteeing it control of the council.

The near abandonment of the council by the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives astonished Labour.

The party’s statement added: “If Labour’s four new councillors, shortly to be increased once the elections take place, had not stepped forward to represent the people, then the town council would not have been able to function. It would have had only four councillors.”

Labour’s Mark Boyce Churn, elected unopposed in Wooteys, said: “It’s disappointing the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats didn’t want to stand again for Alton Town Council when confronted with the current challenges.

“We can’t wait to get working for the people of Alton and provide proper representation for them at all levels.”