ARK - critics are missing the bigger pitcure
I am very relieved that I managed to keep away from the Annual Parish Meeting as keeping my mouth shut following the inane and sneering comments made about Action for the River Kennet (ARK) and Stonebridge Meadow may have proved an impossible task. Nigel Kerton and Tony Reader, it would appear, continue their war on this charity for reasons which are obscure and lacking in factual content.
ARK is a body of people who have worked tirelessly for around 20 years to ensure the health of the River Kennet is restored, improved and protected, the banks and hinterland treated with respect in a way that encourages wildlife in and by the water to flourish. They have made the river accessible to people with mobility problems at huge cost, and regularly arrange walks for members along parts of the river which are not normally accessible. They have opened up pathways where none existed and improved many stretches of river beyond belief. They work hand in hand with other wildlife organisations, charities and statutory bodies, developing ways of improving the quality of the river. 100 people regularly volunteer their time to help the river and the surrounding valley, and ARK works not only at Stonebridge, but in the whole catchment, with active projects in Newbury and new projects in the pipeline as far downstream as Reading, but I doubt that any of this is of interest to either Mr Kerton or Mr Reader.
ARK have both educated and given much pleasure to many people with their projects, introduced countless local children to the wonders of nature in their very own rare chalk stream and attracted a great many willing and faithful volunteers. There have been so many positives that come out of ARK’s work, not least of which is a pipeline that will be built for South Swindon in order to lessen abstraction from the aquifers feeding the river.
I am mystified by the vitriolic sniping of the vocal few and sincerely hope that Mayor Guy Loosmore does not wish to get these people around a table to “reach a solution” to a problem that exists only in the minds of those who wish to create one. Responses from ARK are always measured and calm when outrageous allegations are made, they have grown used to dealing with ignorance and perhaps those who are jealous of success. My response may not have been so restrained, I am therefore pleased I opted to enjoy a peaceful Monday evening at home with my son, rather than suffer the spiteful wittering of people who really should know better.