Anger at closure of Sabden beauty spot
Residents have been taking to social media sites and contacting Sabden Parish Council members after the landowner fenced off Spring Lodge in Whalley Road last week.
Villagers have used the footpath around the lodge for generations, it used to be a popular fishing lodge and, until recently, when the lodge was drained for repairs, parents took their children there to feed the ducks.
However, landowner Andrew Duckworth says he has been forced to fence off the area for safety reasons and because people were beginning to misuse the area.
And last weekend he was angered when someone tried to remove the fence, just days after it was erected.
The last straw came this summer he says when a group of youths he asked to stop fishing there assaulted him and threatened to throw him in the lodge. He said police were called and arrested the youths from the Burnley and Padiham area.
“That was the last straw for me and my family,” he said.
He explained that he had an arrangement with Lancashire County Council to allow a concessionary footpath next to the lodge for villagers to use, but following a number of problems he cancelled it at the end of October.
In a statement he said: “The footpath was originally created as a concessionary footpath on 2 August 2000 under Section 39 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and was always capable of termination by the owners.
“The footpath had been the subject of a number of incidents of poaching, trespass, dog fouling and other abuses over the last two years culminating in a physical attack on the owner, in the presence of his family, on 19 August 2013. The perpetrators were arrested and charged by the police.
“Following discussions with the police, insurers and Lancashire County Council it was agreed that the concessionary footpath be terminated with immediate effect.”
He also said that the lodge had been leaking so no longer had any fish and was now just silt and mud. He says he has fenced it off partly because of the problems he had suffered and because he felt the lodge in its current state was dangerous.
A parish council spokesman said the landowner was within his rights to withdraw access to the footpath at any time without notice. The plan apparently is for the lodge to be drained , repaired, filled and re-stocked with fish.
Mr Duckworth said he would have reviewed the matter in time but, because of an incident at the weekend when someone had tried to cut away the fence, he now has no plans to reinstate any access to the private land at this stage.