For some time now, The Cotswold Water Park Trust has been in discussions with Ashton Keynes Angling Club over proposals to install Otter fencing at Neigh Bridge Country Park. The Trust’s position has always remained that it does not object to fencing, providing certain criteria can be met:
1. Any fencing should be sensitive to the aesthetics of the site and its primary use as a country park.
2. Ashton Keynes Angling Club should consult with the Public Rights of Way department at Gloucestershire County Council and Thames Path National Trails officers, in order to seek permission to install gates across the main footpath.
3. Ashton Keynes Angling Club should consult with the local Parish Council at Somerford Keynes to seek approval for the installation of a fence.
4. Funding for the fence should be delivered by Ashton Keynes Angling Club with no financial burden placed on the Cotswold Water Park Trust for its installation or maintenance.
The Trust is appreciative that Ashton Keynes Angling Club has worked hard to fulfil these criteria, some of which have been difficult to achieve. The Trust also recognises the hard work and generosity already demonstrated by angling club members in building up a significant proportion of the funding required.
Delivery of the fencing scheme will not be straightforward, particularly bearing in mind the public nature of the site, its difficult topographical challenges, and the need to keep it accessible and safe at all times, but the Trust is confident that Ashton Keynes Angling Club can work towards its goal and protect the site for angling into the future.
Finally, the Cotswold Water Park Trust shares Ashton Keynes Angling Club members’ frustrations and sadness at the loss of a number of iconic fish in recent years. The Trust is highly supportive of angling in the Cotswold Water Park, but has had to carefully balance the fencing issue with other important areas of the charity’s remit, namely conservation and public access. We hope that the installation of a mutually acceptable fencing solution can now be brought forward and remaining fish will not suffer the same fate.