Villagers flock to fight for a clean duck pond

Residents of Finningley are campaigning to have their village duck pond cleaned up, after the majority of their ducks have died.  Pictured are L-R Nick Teasdale, Jean Mulloy, and postmistress Bridgette Clarke. Picture: Liz Mockler D1178LM

Residents of Finningley are campaigning to have their village duck pond cleaned up, after the majority of their ducks have died. Pictured are L-R Nick Teasdale, Jean Mulloy, and postmistress Bridgette Clarke. Picture: Liz Mockler D1178LM

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Finningley residents are calling on their parish council to restore the village’s duck pond to its former beauty.

They say the pond used to be a place for people to relax or to walk with their children but is now a half-empty puddle of green muck.

Postmistress Bridget Clark has raised a petition calling on the council to come up with a definite plan of action for cleaning up the water.

“There’s just a tiny little pool of water in the middle now and the rest is absolutely disgusting,” she said.

As a child, Mrs Clark skated on the frozen pond during the winters and fell in during the summers. “I wouldn’t like to think what would happen if anyone went into this pond now,” she said.

“I feel very anxious as to the health of people who are going down there with kids.”

Residents also fear the water quality is so bad it is killing the local ducks, which have dwindled in number from about 25 to fewer than 10, and one resident has been giving them medication.

They say the problems began after an attempt to clean the pond about two years ago damaged its clay base and caused it to leak.

The parish council then added bales of straw to the water to try to get rid of algae, but this also failed.

So far about 100 people have signed the petition, which they hope to submit to the parish council at its next meeting on November 15.

But the council’s chairman, David Lindley, said if residents attended parish meetings they would know the council is already working on the problem.

“It’s a permanent item on the parish agenda,” he said.

“Contractors are being invited to investigate, and we have had comments from contractors that it’s easier and therefore cheaper to dig it out when the pond’s in a dry condition.

“We’ve allowed the pond to drain down. Now we are being accused that it looks a right mess. It’s the whole ‘making an omelette without breaking any eggs’.”

Mr Lindley added that although the base was leaking, the bigger problem was drought. He also said the straw bales had been tried on the advice of several experts.

“In the interest of our ratepayers, we tried the cheapest option first,” he said.

“Unfortunately with a project of this kind, there’s so much behind-the-scenes work that requires setting up. We legally have to apply certain procedures.”

Residents have also been asked not to give the ducks bread, for the health of both the pond and the ducks.

The pond is thought to be centuries old, with evidence of a ‘ducking stool’ – a device popular for punishing criminals and witches up until about 1800.

In more recent years, residents have built memorial seats around pond.