Manea residents will have their say on five feet high ‘otter’ fence for the village pit

Manea pit proposed fence,

Manea pit proposed fence, - Credit: Archant

A public meeting is being organised to discuss controversial proposals to build a fence around Manea Village Pit.

Manea Pit. Picture: Steve Williams.

Manea Pit. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

The move comes after more than 100 villagers packed April’s parish council meeting to raise objections to the proposals, which could cost at least £17,000, and were on the agenda for a decision.

The parish council agreed to delay making a decision on the fence, which will be between four and feet high with multiple gated accesses, to allow parishioners to debate the issue.

Resident Gary Simpson, who pledged to organise a public meeting, has now set the date for Thursday May 12 at 7.30pm at Manea Royal British Legion Club and everyone is welcome.

Members of a carp fishing syndicate at the pit in Park Road want the fence to keep out otters, which they fear will destroy the lake’s stock of fish including carp estimated to be worth up to £90,000.

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But voters who voiced their concerns during the parish council meeting’s public forum argued the pit is a village asset and should remain open so everyone can enjoy it.

They were also worried the cost of the fence will land on residents’ shoulders if something should happen to the syndicate. The parish council will pay for the fence and recoup the cost from the syndicate over coming years.

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No otters have been seen in the pit but council chairman Councillor Steve Emery said they are in the vicinity. He pointed out the syndicate, which has a membership limited currently to 30, pay £4,000 to £5,000 to the parish council for use of the pit.

Resident Lisa Eves urged the council to delay making a decision on the fence to allow time for residents to discuss it at a public meeting.

She fears the fence will make it harder for people to access and will spoil the openness of the pit which dates back to the 1930s.

Mark Buckton, Manea’s Fenland District Councillor, said the natural beauty of the pit would be harmed with the introduction of a fence “for the sake of keeping a few fishermen happy”.

Cliff Carson, environmental officer with the Middle Level Commissioners and a resident, was in favour of the fence.

“I would rather not see a fence, but I want to protect the otters and the best way to do that is to keep them away. I have seen otters drowned in illegally placed nets, and I don’t want that to happen in Manea,” he said.

Cllr Emery proposed delaying a decision for one month which was unanimously agreed by councillors.

Cllr Dr Richard Hirson said he would be willing to chair any public meeting called.

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