0 Campaign for Keith

Dog walkers and nature lovers have launched a campaign to reinstate a long-serving groundsman who says he was forced out of his job because of his age.

The Chronicle reported two weeks ago that Keith Pope, of Lakeside, was made redundant the day he turned 65 and his part-time groundsman post abolished after 31 years, so that Earley Town Council could merge the duties of several jobs into one full-time position.

But Mr Pope said he wanted to carry on in the role tending to Maiden Erlegh Lake and nature reserve, adding: "I've been down every avenue to try to keep the job, I enjoy it and am very experienced. It's not about the money for me, but I'm not sure what else I can do."

After reading about Mr Pope's predicament, Tim Rowcliffe-Smith of nearby Crawford Close launched a campaign and petition to get the groundsman reinstated. Mr Rowcliffe-Smith said: "Our council is accountable to residents - it must ultimately do as we wish. Keith is the guardian of our lake. It's so easy for the council to reconsider, so long as we show our feeling.

"Keith stood tall for the welfare of our lake for 30 years and our lake stood tall as a result. Now it's time for us to stand tall for him."

On The Chronicle website, 'sb' said: "What a shame and what a loss to the community. I wish Mr Pope all the very best and I am sure he will be missed by the community of Earley who benefit from his hard work over the years."

Mr Pope said: "I'm very surprised to hear so many people care, it's very nice of them - I'm over the moon, really."

He said despite his retirement, he has still found himself helping out around the lake.

Earley Town Council said Mr Pope's role was going due to a restructuring of its maintenance division and told him he could apply for the new full-time post or track down someone willing to split it with him as a jobshare. But he said he was given less than a week's notice and so had no time to find someone else.

Town clerk Philip Truppin said the council was very thankful for Mr Pope's years of hard work, but that it was no longer feasible to employ Mr Pope part-time.

Source :- Reading Chronicle

Link: www.ipetitions.com/petition/keithpope

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