Councillor David Ashcroft

A NEGLECTED amenity in the centre of Oxenhope could receive a clean-up later this year once potential legal or ecological obstacles have been overcome.

The duck pond off Station Road has become choked up with undergrowth.

People keen to see it cleared have set up a Facebook page called Clean up the Horseshoe Dam.

Councillors at last Wednesday’s meeting of Oxenhope Parish Council said they welcomed local enthusiasm for the project.

But they also warned of the need to first try and establish who might own the site, and to make sure no wildlife is disrupted.

Cllr David Ashcroft (picture above) stated, “The pond has been like this for 15 years with no one taking responsibility for it.”

“There is a lot of concern over the mess that it’s in, but we need to be careful we don’t jump in and do something that turns out to be illegal.”

“If we go and clear stuff and disturb wildlife such as nesting birds we’d be committing an offence.”

“It would be a good idea to have some sort of proper ecological plan in place. That would be the right way forward, and shouldn’t involve a great deal of work.”

“It’s about getting the balance right between seizing the opportunity to use people’s enthusiasm, while not doing something that makes the situation worse.”

 Oxenhope resident Roger Smales, a member of the Clean up the Horseshoe Dam group who attended the council meeting, said, “It is such a mess at the moment, and it needs something doing to it as soon as possible.”

“There are no ducks now, there is hardly any water in it and it’s deteriorating. There is also rubbish in the stream which needs tidying up.”

“I’d gladly survey it and take some photos to show what has to be done.”

Cllr Ken Eastwood said Bradford Council should be contacted for advice on determining the pond’s ownership and seeking support to transfer ownership to the Parish Council or to a community group constituted to maintain the site.

He added, “We have a bunch of people volunteering to come forward and take action and we should encourage that. We don’t want to be seen as the people who are saying ‘no’. It’s surely our job as a Parish Council to enable and facilitate community action and to welcome volunteering.”

Parish council members agreed to investigate whether the pond currently has an owner, whether ownership can be transferred, and to liaise with the Facebook group members to suggest a date and time for a meeting to discuss the issue.

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