Phantom fence cutter is costing villagers as Manea otter fence is repeatedly vandalised
A parish council has been forced to include a £2,000 contingency fund in its upcoming budget to repair an otter fence that is constantly being vandalised.
There is also a substantial reward on offer for information that leads to the prosecution of the perpetrator with the parish council threatening to take private action against Manea's phantom fence cutter if the police don't act.
The fence, which was constructed around Manea Pit, caused a rift between some villagers and members of a carp syndicate that fish the pit and also led to the resignation of one parish councillor.
Despite major opposition among many villagers Manea Parish Council pushed on with its plans to instal the fence at the cost of £16,000 to protect the pit's carp stock from possible otter attack.
The fence went up early last year and since then many of its opponents have continued to moan about it and have threatened to tear it down after this May's local elections if there is a change of representatives on the council.
In the meantime the fence has come under repeated attack and has been vandalised multiple times with volunteers including parish council chairman Steve Emery carrying out repairs to over 22 holes since Christmas.
Previous attacks have also seen straining wires cut, locks removed, gates wedged open and more recently locks glued open.
The latest attack, which was discovered early on Wednesday morning, saw multiple holes, some small and some major cut around most of the length of the fence.
Coun Emery and villager Barry Short were out today (Thursday) repairing the damage and had spent nearly six hours fixing at least six or seven holes.
Mr Melton said: "There is a concerted effort to cause damage to the fence. This is not youngsters messing around, but is an adult or adults who should know better.
"Clearly people don't carry wire cutters or glue with them all the time so whoever is doing this is going equipped with the intention of causing damage.
"We have had to put £2,000 aside in next year's budge to pay for repairs caused by these vandals - that is money coming out of villagers' pockets."
Coun Emery said: "This is absolutely ridiculous, I would like to think it is just one person, but until they are caught we really don't know who is doing this. The amount of holes cut this time would have taken someone over an hour to do.
"They are cutting chunks of wire out but what they are doing with them we don't know as we haven't found any wire lying around, which makes us think they are chucking it in the pit.
"We don't want to waste money keep repairing the fence but it is here for a reason. The fish stock needed to be protected as we cannot afford to lose the £5,000 a year revenue the carp syndicate brings in.
"Part of the conditions of the lease we have for the pit is that we must ensure community fishing is available.
"People need to accept the fence is here to stay and I promise whoever is responsible for this vandalism will be prosecuted. There will be a substantial reward for information which leads to them being caught and punished."
Anyone with information should either contact police on 101 or Coun Emery on 01354 680408 or email firstname.lastname@example.org