Otter outrage in Manea over fencing bid

Manea Pit Committee who won an in bloom award. Back LtoR - Steve Emery, Debra Turner, Ian Woodard, Kate Winters, Mark Archer. Front LtoR - Dennis Winters, Joseph Winters. ENGANL00120120917235200

Manea Pit Committee who won an in bloom award. Back LtoR - Steve Emery, Debra Turner, Ian Woodard, Kate Winters, Mark Archer. Front LtoR - Dennis Winters, Joseph Winters. ENGANL00120120917235200

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Villagers will be holding a public meeting over a parish council’s plans to spend £16,000 on fencing to keep otters out of a lake.

Manea Parish Council is considering installing fencing to protect the fish stocks in Manea Pit after otters have been reported nearby.

This picture of an otter helped Jeff Packham win the Littlehampton and District Camera Club beginners trophy SUS-160202-131313001

This picture of an otter helped Jeff Packham win the Littlehampton and District Camera Club beginners trophy SUS-160202-131313001

But the plans for the ‘Colditz style’ fence have been met with outrage from some residents within Manea, who will be holding a public meeting.

Councillors have agreed to defer a decision on the fence until their next session on May 23 to take into account the views of the public meeting.

The council took over the pit from the Environment Agency in 2008 and received up to £5,000 in the last financial year in fees from a carp syndicate which uses the lake. This money is used to pay for the pit’s upkeep.

Councillors are looking to pay for the fencing from its reserves which would be replenished in future years by these fees.

The council has also spent £5,000 five years ago on fish stocks for the lake.

Around 70 residents went along last week to voice opposition to the plans.

Parish council chairman Steve Emery said: “I can understand why they don’t want the fence down there.

“I am a village boy, born and bred, and I don’t want to see a 6ft fence down there but I am concerned that the work we have done at the pit over the last eight years could be put at risk. We have changed it from an overgrown area to a nice wildlife habitat.

“I am happy to listen to what others have to say.”

One of the people who spoke out at the meeting was Peter Townrow.

He said: “It appears the fishermen are being put before everyone else and the demand for this Colditz-style fence around the pit means access would be curtailed.

“My main concern is that people are struggling with the increased council tax.

“If it went wrong and the fisherman went, we would lose the subs and lose the potential to put the money back into the contingency funds.

“I do not believe there is any need for this fence, which will spoil the appearance.”

Mr Townrow has been fundraising to create a memorial for the people who dug the drains. But he is now holding off on plans to install the memorial in the orchard due to the fencing.