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Anglers fight back after council bans fishing at popular spot

Anglers in Kent have reacted in disbelief after a local council's decision to ban fishing in a popular and historic moat.

Locals from the market town of Ashford claim they were given no reason for the impending closure which will end fishing at a spot which has served as a place of quiet refuge for generations of local anglers going back some 26 years.

Baffled fishermen and women say that last month, their local council- Ashford Borough Council- suddenly ordered them to stop fishing in the 'beautiful' moat – which once surrounded a manor house – without fully explaining why.

Along with Kingsnorth Parish Council (KPC), the local fishing community is now banding together to fight the ban by launching a petition to save the moat, which has been fished in since 1996.

Robert Heath, a decade-long member of Stanhope Angling Club, spends a large amount of his time fishing the moat and explained that the ban would be incredibly sad for the local community. It is hoped the petition will reach 1,500 signatures, which would ensure it was discussed in council chambers.

Speaking to the Metro Mr Heath said: " They have said 'no fishing', but we have been asking the question, 'why?'. After 24 years of being someone's tenant, you would have thought out of respect that you deserve more than that. We have been led to believe it is a financial issue and we do know how much it is going to cost to de-silt this moat.

He added: "What will happen to the moat is a bigger issue… It will go to rack and ruin.I want someone to tell me where else kids can go for a day out at just £5 – because there are not many places. But come the end of March, they're mad if they think people won't come fishing here anymore. There will be more people fishing here than we have in our club."

Renowned angler and Director of the Countryside Alliance Foundation's Fishing for Schools programme, Charles Jardine, has also waded into the debate. He shares concerns raised by the local community and believes it is important that everybody, especially youngsters, have easy access to angling.

🎥 Furious anglers in Ashford, Kent are fighting their local council's decision to ban fishing in a popular and historic moat.

Renowned angler and @fishing_schools director @CharlesJardine spoke to @fieldsportstv about the community-led fight back, last week 👇

— Countryside Alliance Press Office (@CApressoffice) March 1, 2023

Talking to Fieldsports Britain about the situation, Mr. Jardine said: " Local people and the parish council are right to ask Ashford Borough Council to look at this decision again. Angling is a vital segment to the wellbeing of the community, and it is a wonderful thing just to feel calm for a few moments".

A spokesman for Ashford Borough Council said: "Following our discussions in 2022 with the angling club, parish council and ward members an agreement has been reached to cease fishing at the moat site situated in Park Farm from the end of March 2023.

"The moat is not a public fishery, and to fish there you need to be part of the angling club.

"We will continue to maintain the site as a public open space and for the wider biodiversity opportunities that the moat provides."

The petition to Ashford Borough Council can be found here.

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