Bid to tackle cockle chaos

Coun Tommy Threlfall

Coun Tommy Threlfall

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TOWN hall bosses have vowed there will be no repeat of the chaos which hit Lytham when cockling beds in the Ribble Estuary were opened last year.

Dozens of residents, whose lives were turned upside down during the two months the beds were open, have met with Fylde Council officials to discuss how the situation could be improved when the fishing ground is next opened up.

And Coun Tommy Threlfall – who organised the meeting – has pledged their concerns will be put to the body responsible for regulating cockling, the Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA).

The closure of the beds was put into place in November following dozens of emergency alerts when untrained and ill-equipped amateur cocklers headed out into the estuary with plans to make some quick cash.

There were complaints of littering and bad parking by the cocklers.

It is due to be reviewed on Monday.

Coun Threlfall, the council’s cabinet member for environment and partnerships, told The Gazette: “In trying to put a management plan together for IFCA to reflect on I thought it appropriate to speak to all the relevant factions – local fishermen and the residents who have suffered.

“The residents are obviously concerned by their experiences and wanted to air their views, and hopefully their concerns can be addressed.”

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Residents were left concerned after more than 20 calls to the local RNLI in just two months after the cockle beds were opened for the first time in 20 years last September.

There were also complaints about cocklers urinating in gardens and dropping litter.

A management plan is set to be put in place before the beds reopen and Coun Threlfall added: “I did say to the residents we’re not the decision makers, IFCA are – if they say it’s Christmas before they re-look at it then it’s Christmas on the Ribble Estuary.

“I’ve called these meetings because something needs to change – we don’t want a re-run of Morecambe Bay and we have local fishermen who we want to make a living.

“I’m hoping this plan will have a few ideas acceptable to all factions.”

Depending on the outcome of Monday’s review, the council hopes to host a meeting with the residents and IFCA, as well as a separate session with the emergency services.