THE plug has finally been pulled on the troubled Frogmoor fountain, after the council this week admitted the malfunctioning water feature was beyond repair.

Despite the £100,000 that was spent on the modern version, there have been calls to replace it with a replica of the Victorian-style fountain that vanished from the site during the Second World War.

Councillor Julia Wassell said: "All across Wycombe people say If only we had kept it.' Lots of pensioners who remember it think it should never have been replaced, they all loved the fountain."

The feature has been hit by problems since it first opened five years ago, when the contractors who installed it went into liquidation just days later. It has not functioned at all for nearly two years.

Nigel Vickery was High Wycombe's mayor when the fountain was launched in 2002, and was angry that so much money had gone down the drain.

He said: "Someone has to be made accountable - £100,000 has been spent on this. That's £100,000 wasted. When awarding a contract the council should investigate the financial viability of companies tendering before awarding the contract, so I hope that any new water feature will be looked into carefully."

A Wycombe Town Community meeting on Tuesday decided it was time to think about replacing the fountain, after the extent of the damage was finally made clear.

Catherine Spalton, communications officer for Wycombe District Council said: "Following the serious plant room flood in August 2005, the Frogmoor fountain had to be switched off to allow investigations into the cost of repairs and further redesign works necessary to ensure it could operate properly in the future. Investigations have revealed that the fountain cannot be turned on again due to extensive damage to the pipework and filtration system.

"In order for the fountain to work, the entire installation would have to be replaced. A recommendation will be made for a replacement water feature of a different, non-interactive design, as part of a wider upgrading of the public area in Frogmoor. The suggestion for a replica of the original Victorian tiered fountain will be investigated."

She added: "We have sought legal opinion about our ability to claim against the contractors. The legal advice we received suggests any claims would only result in wasted costs."

The original fountain vanished during the Second World War when it was rumoured to have been used to make armaments.

Cllr Peter Cartwright, who raised money for the fountain in his mayoral year, of 1999-2000, was not convinced an old-style fountain could ever return. He said: "That was ruled out years ago on health and safety grounds - there were concerns about people falling in."

But he thought that a similar feature was vital for the long-term benefit of the Frogmoor area. He said: "Frogmoor looks very bland at the moment without it - the water feature was a focal point. Something needs to be done to make sure that area becomes live again, especially when the Eden project opens. We don't want that part of Wycombe to become dead."