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Protesters hope to keep boats off Balderton lake as YMCA bids to build dock

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Almost 30 protestors gathered at the Balderton Village Centre in their efforts to convince the council to reconsider allowing watersports on Balderton Lake.

The peaceful protest took place on Wednesday, March 9, and lasted from 5:30pm until the Balderton Parish Council meeting began at 6:30pm.

The Saving Wildlife and Nature (SWAN) community group organized the protest to call on the parish council to keep boats banned on Balderton Lake to protect its wildlife.

Plans submitted to the council reveal that the YMCA hopes to launch a dock for boats at the lake, which will be used as part of the YMCA Community and Activity village set to open in Spring 2022.

SWAN believes that boats on the lake will disturb the wildlife living in and around the lake, especially during breeding season, which could result in nests being abandoned and habitats being damaged.

Three of the key organizers for the SWAN group are Jane Buxton, Jean Hall and Karen Callingham, who are all long term residents of Balderton Lake.

Jane said: “The lake has been wonderful for everyone during Covid and lockdown; It was a lifeline for a lot of people.

“A lot of people are coming from Coddington, Claypole and Farndon because there’s nothing like it and they want to come and walk around the lake, so it’s the lake for the whole community.”

Jane explained that the plans were made in 2017 and had been almost forgotten as it had all been done “very much under the radar”, without residents really knowing what was planned.

After going through hundreds of pages, she and other residents found the small piece that made reference to what the YMCA wanted to do with activities on the lake.

She added: “It’s like a YMCA take over, a land grab.”

Fellow organiser and civil servant, Karen, has lived at Balderton Lake for almost 30 years, and explained how they have been attending council meetings since November, but Balderton Lake still has not been on the agenda.

Karen said: “We have a petition with more than 2000 signatures and they still haven’t had the lake on the agenda.

Jane said: “It’s the feeling that there is no trust anymore, and the council are supposed to represent residents.

“We tried cakes in the first meeting and then brought mince pies at Christmas.

“Another thing we have said is that we would like to start a Friends of Balderton Lake group, as this is who we are saving it for (gesturing to a group of children), the wildlife and the kids.”

Fellow organizer Jean Hall, who has lived at the lake for 15 years, added: “Balderton lake is something for everyone.”

One of the protestors, Jenni Vaughn, 60, said: “It’s just a lovely tranquil place to walk.

“We now have so much wildlife there because of all the developments in the area, more of that wildlife has been congregating in that area.”

One of the proposed additions in the YMCA plan is a sensory garden, but this is something residents say they don’t want nor need.

Jenni added: “We don’t need a sensory garden, that whole area is a plethora of senses if you just stop and look, we don’t need anything else.

“I think the other concern is I think the YMCA has a bigger plan for the lake, as there are other facilities in the area for them to do that and just leave this lake.”

Retired, Keith Asher, 75, has lived near Balderton lake for almost 50 years and regularly goes on walks around the lake with his camera, and has captured a vast collection of wildlife shots.

He said: “I walk round the lake now most days and during the pandemic walking around the lake kept me sane.”

“I just enjoy walking round and taking photos of the wildlife.

“Prior to the lock down I didn’t bother but now I just find it an absolute joy, I’ve stopped going to the gym.”

Protestor, Emma Oldham, was heavily involved with the Stop The Chop Protest that took place in Newark towards the end of last year, and was protesting with her daughters for Balderton Lake.

Emma said: “At the moment the lake provides rich engagement to tons of communities for free in Balderton and Newark.

“We don’t need anything else to enjoy it, the lake is amazing as it is.”

Todd Cauthorn, executive director at YMCA Newark and Sherwood, had previously said: “We have a deep respect for protecting wildlife in Newark and YMCA has taken every due diligence to ensure all plans remain considerate of the environment as a key priority throughout this project.

“In addition to holding a public consultation with local residents to understand community views before the village project began, we conducted ecology reports and hosted consultations with The Wildlife Trust to ensure plans — including how we access the lake for activities such as kayaking — are in-keeping with local conservation standards.

“Responses have given us confidence that wildlife will not be harmed by our charity’s proposals, which focus upon adding to the community’s strengths by enabling young people from all backgrounds to enjoy nature while learning how to respect it.

“We hope this helps to set people’s minds at ease that any plans for the lake will be delivered safely and with great consideration both for local wildlife habitats and preserving the natural beauty.

“We are always looking to improve our impact to make the lake eve nicer for people who live locally and we will continue to work closely with the council and local groups to ensure all YMCA projects preserve the environment.”

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Written by: thehitnetwork

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