Public access and upkeep of Stonebridge Meadow was hotly debated at Marlborough’s annual parish meeting last week.

Questions were asked as to why Action for the River Kennet, which shares ownership of the meadow with the town council, had surrounded one part of the meadow in barbed wire.

Resident Nigel Kerton said: “I’ve lived in Marlborough for 50 years and I’ve never been more than 200 yards from the river so it’s dear to my heart.

“The middle one of the three western paddocks has been virtually neutered thanks to ARK. It is little short of a mud bath.

“The eastern most paddock now has signs designating it as a scrub area asking people to keep to designated mown pathways to avoid disturbing the pathways.”

Resident Tony Reader added: “When the town council bought 51 per cent it was supposed to be to help as a wildlife reserve and increase public access and I don’t think they have really done either. I think the town council are relying on ARK to do whatever they want.”

The consultation process in 2012, when residents had a chance to have their say on plans for Stonebridge Meadow, was also heavily criticised for only including a small percentage of people living in the town.

Coun Brian Castle, chairman of the amenities and open spaces committe, said: “We are aware of criticism and we are going to have a further public consultation. There is going to be an open forum in the town hall on June 21 in which various ideas will be presented.”