Forestry Commission turns anti-angling?

robhale

Well-known member
Just been informed about this and I cannot believe it:

It is with great regret that I have to announce the end of angling at the Lodge Pond fishery in Alice Holt, which has been fished and managed by Farnham Angling Society for over 70 years has been ended without warning by the Forestry Commission: Farnham Angling Society News Page - News of Fantastic Angling on the Hampshire/Surrey/Berkshire Borders for Carp, Catfish, Pike and all Coarse and Game species

Bit of a long statement, but you can probably gather how disgusted they are at their treatment by the Forestry Commission:

LODGE POND CLOSURE FROM THE EVENING OF 25TH APRIL 2011

It is with deep regret that we have to advise that after over 70-years of Farnham Angling Society leasing Lodge Pond from the owners of Alice Holt Forest, the Forestry Commission have decided without any warning or discussion whatsoever, providing no notice whatsoever of their intention not to renew our lease on the fishery.

Lodge Pond will no longer be available as a fishery after Monday 25th April 2011 and no members should fish the venue after that date. The locks will be changed by the Forestry Commission that evening and have indicated that if our Members continue to fish at the site they will be reported for trespass and will be referred to their solicitors, which could result in you being prosecuted.

Farnham Angling Society sincerely apologise to our 3,500+ members for this position, but can advise that the decision was completely beyond our control.

We were aware that the Forestry Commission had concerns about the security of the Alice Holt site and had requested that Farnham Angling Society members always secured the gates when they left. Whilst the Executive Committee relayed this within the 2010 Autumn/Winter newsletter, further incidents of the main site access gates being left unlocked have apparently taken place and break-ins at the site have been reported to the Police.

However, the Forestry Commission ignored communication from Farnham Angling Society and our attempts to discuss the lease. When we were finally able to discuss the lease with the Forestry Commission, more than 14-days after the lease had ended, they stated that the only problem they had encountered with Farnham Angling Society as a tenant over the last 9-years was the locking of the gates. Our monthly checks on litter, in addition to those daily checks already carried out by FAS bailiffs, and the undertaking of speed checks on the forestry track that led to the fishery were deemed more than adequate. However, the security issue alone was considered critical enough to prevent a future lease.

Farnham Angling Society is mortified at the conduct of the and decision of the Forestry Commission as the Society had only two years ago, invested a further £8,000 in extending the car park, and further improving paths and swims that facilitated easier access and use of the fishery for disabled anglers. The provision of such improvements were summarily dismissed by the Forestry Commission. This highlights the dangers of investing in a fishery that we do not own, but as a very popular fishery with our members, was still deemed necessary by the Executive Committee.

Through simple response to our emails and phone calls to their offices seeking a meeting to discuss the lease renewal, the Forestry Commission could have advised us of their intentions which they had apparently decided in December 2010, and prevented massive inconvenience to all Farnham Angling Society members that fish this venue. We explained the problems that their total lack of communication had caused to us as a Society in so much as the printing of all FAS advertising brochures and handbooks for the 2011/12 season including Lodge Pond; we explained that over 1,500 FAS permits had already been issued to our members by the time we received notification of their intentions to close the fishery to us causing a massive communication problem; and most importantly we pointed out that they were taking away from our membership a fishery that held a special place in the history of Farnham Angling Society and had been with us for over 70 years - but these were summarily dismissed. It is the underhand way in which they have chosen to sever such a longstanding and mutually beneficial tenancy that is so difficult to understand.

We can only offer our apologies for the way in which they have made their decision and most importantly the way in which they have chosen to relay it to us as a Society and to you as our Members.

We are aware of the ever increasing pressure for the Forestry Commission and other public bodies to raise funding as a result of Government cuts to finance and the current recession, and some of you will be well aware of the Forestry Commission's recently aborted proposal to sell off nationally owned woodland assets, but it appears that the possibility of fundraising from the use of the pond for purposes beyond fishing by our membership has proved too much. We have not been advised what they will be using the lake for, and its appears that they too are not sure themselves at present, and as a result of this we requested that an annual lease be given whilst such consideration was finalised which would have enabled us to prepare for the removal of the venue from next seasons handbook and not disadvantage our members this season, but this too was rejected.

Farnham Angling Society will be lodging a formal complaint with the Chairman of the Forestry Commission with respect to the way in which the Bucks Horn Oak officers have handled the termination of such a long standing lease arrangement with no discussion whatsoever and the resulting effect it has on our Members.

Jeremy Hunt the Farnham MP and Secretary of State for Culture, Media, Olympic & Sport, has been contacted and requested to represent the 3,500+ members of Farnham Angling Society who have lost a historic fishery that has played an important part in the development of the Society and its Members of all ages since the 1930's.

We believe that the Forestry Commission have acted extremely unprofessionally and unreasonably as a public authority by making a unilateral decision to end a lease under such circumstances in light of the popularity of the venue with our members which they know fish the venue throughout the year, especially from March to September and at weekends. It is irresponsible to end our historic link with Lodge Pond as a local fishing club that has invested so heavily in both its physical development through the swims, car parks and paths but also in terms of the stock of fish that it contains, providing a benefit to Farnham Angling Society with its open membership to those wishing to take part in the UK's most popular participation sport in the country.

Although our Chairman's meeting on 20th April 2011 with the Area Land Agent representing the Forestry Commission has offered no immediate hope, we will be doing all we can to reverse this situation, and as such will be enlisting the support of The Angling Trust, Fish Legal, Jeremy Hunt the Farnham MP and Secretary of State for Sport and Richard Benyon MP the Fisheries Minister, having taken a keen interest in assisting The Angling Trust and being a keen angler himself.

We will keep you updated on any progress made and and changes that occur via our Newsletter and via the Farnham, Angling Website. We are unable to enter into individual communication with Members on this issue, but you may lend your support or register your views to us via email: honsecretary@farnhamanglingsociety.com

Statement issued by The Executive Committee of Farnham Angling Society - 22nd April 2011
 

robhale

Well-known member
Thanks for the suggestion Jeff, the anging trust and a number of oter government and other organisations are being involved.

I feel sick to the back teeth that I signed petitions and supported the FC when it and Alice Holt were threatened with closure/sell off.
 

mark brailsford 2

Banned
Banned
hi,
I can undrstand your anger,
we have had many angling venues lost in derbyshire due to the stupid ideas of the derbyshire county council countryside services. These people have stopped the fishing on many waters with the idea that it upsets the wildlife, and now on many of these waters they have serious vandelism...just goes to show how these so called academics know how to manage the countryside.

mark
 
This is a shameful situation. I wonder if there is the option(and/or the finances) to seek some sort of judicial review of the FC's unilateral and sudden decision. It certainly does not seem equitable.

I hate to suggest this Rob...but have they had a significantly better "offer" from another club for the rights? If they have, shouldn't they put it out to open tender as a public body. Indeed as a public body, from what you have written, the seem to be inappropriately reticent about the future.
 

robhale

Well-known member
This is a shameful situation. I wonder if there is the option(and/or the finances) to seek some sort of judicial review of the FC's unilateral and sudden decision. It certainly does not seem equitable.

I hate to suggest this Rob...but have they had a significantly better "offer" from another club for the rights? If they have, shouldn't they put it out to open tender as a public body. Indeed as a public body, from what you have written, the seem to be inappropriately reticent about the future.
Hi Paul,

I do not believe they are looking to lease to anyone else. The stock will be removed, (it's FAS' fish). There are two possibilities in my personal opinion, the first is that they want to dispose of tenants as a prelude to a sell off (This is something that has been brewing for a while, and thought was defeated with the Save Alice Holt Campaign (which I and others supported).

The second is they want to cease fishing and turn it into a boating lake or similar (it is completely unsuitable IMO) but will probably gain them extra revenue.

All options are being looked at and I would say Judicial Review would be one of the paths, although the expense would be high and the FC would certainly field a legal dept and a counsel, rather than a solicitor at any hearing.

Would FM mind putting the petition as a sticky or an announcement? It may greatly help gather support and momentum for this cause.
 

the indifferent crucian

Well-known member
Mentioned this fight on another forum. A lot of support, and the petition has gained 100 registered supporters today alone.


Come on FM.
The next high-handed lease withdrawal migh be your club's lake!

The FAS really do seem innocent in this. There were some gate locking issues and they delat with it, and that's all the FC could offer by way of excuse.

So what is the REAL reason behind this?


Whatever it is....YOUR lake might be next!
 

robhale

Well-known member
Many thanks fornthensupport everyone. 305 signatures today. Please keep going. I have also seen confirmation that the FC really do intend that this is the end of 70 years of angling on the site.

Don't let them get away with it.

Here is some background to help you understand what's going on:
Farnham Angling Society News Page - News of Fantastic Angling on the Hampshire/Surrey/Berkshire Borders for Carp, Catfish, Pike and all Coarse and Game species

Please sign the petition and pass it on:
Farnham Angling Society - Lodge Pond Lease Petition
 

Peter Jacobs

Moderator
Staff member
This appears to be one of those truly frustrating decisions that makes little or no logical sense at all.

Given that there have been some security issues in the past, apparently addressed by the club in question, the Forestry Commission seem to be deliberately reducing their income for no apparent reason.

To my mind there has to be some underlaying reason, such as; there is a 'quiet' offer from a syndicate or another club, or an outside influence e.g. sailing, canoeing water-skiing, whatever. Is this venue large enough to support water sports?

A judicial review of an administrative act by a public body is always difficult to further, but at least you might get to learn the fundamental reason(s) why this lease will not be extended.

Good luck though . . . . . . .
 

bfguk

New member
The pond is not large enough for Jet ski's or sail boats, flat bottom punts or pedal boats yes.

---------- Post added at 04:33 ---------- Previous post was at 03:08 ----------

I have just checked to see how many signatures are on the petition, as of 12:30 today only 335. :confused: I am totally shocked, Rob has done excellent work getting this noticed on several forums, and it is being discussed :).

That's my whine off my chest, a big thank you to Rob for all your efforts on the different forums. I hope this gets the attention it needs.

Fingers crossed for now
 

robhale

Well-known member
All,

Having just got off the phone, I have an update for you:

Whilst being filmed for BBC South Today, the club secretary, Ian Gray received a phone call from the regional director of the Forestry Commission, who live on camera, intervened and made a U-Turn, reinstating fishing and Farnham Angling Society's fishing rights on Lodge Pond, Alice Holt.

For those interested, tune into BBC One's South Today program at 18:30 tonight for coverage at Lodge Pond and the fateful phone call.

A huge well done to everyone who called, wrote in, contacted the media and the FC, signed the petition or just spread the word! Whether you are an FAS member or not, Anglers have just showed solidarity and won the day!


Well done and thanks all at FishingMagic.com!

More details later!
 

Peter Jacobs

Moderator
Staff member
All,

Having just got off the phone, I have an update for you:

Whilst being filmed for BBC South Today, the club secretary, Ian Gray received a phone call from the regional director of the Forestry Commission, who live on camera, intervened and made a U-Turn, reinstating fishing and Farnham Angling Society's fishing rights on Lodge Pond, Alice Holt.

For those interested, tune into BBC One's South Today program at 18:30 tonight for coverage at Lodge Pond and the fateful phone call.

A huge well done to everyone who called, wrote in, contacted the media and the FC, signed the petition or just spread the word! Whether you are an FAS member or not, Anglers have just showed solidarity and won the day!


Well done and thanks all at FishingMagic.com!

More details later!
Really good news, well done to you too Rob.

It sounds like whoever you were dealing with at local level had over-stepped their authority, by a long way, if the Regional director has had to intervene.

Well done again!
 

Neil Maidment

Moderator
Banned
I see they extended for 12 months and are at least talking to FAS now. A good result, hopefully those within FAS will be able to renegotiate fair terms.
 
Top