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Bacup petting farm closed down over e-coli claims
A PETTING farm in East Lancashire has been closed down by council bosses over claims of an E-Coli risk.
Animal Quackers in Bacup has become the first such farm in the UK to be shut on public health grounds.
But Terry Bork, who runs the Huttock Top Farm venture, insists he is being victimised and is fighting to reopen the venue early next week.
The move is the latest in a long-running battle between Rossendale Council and Mr Bork.
Under the closure order, granted by Reedley magistrates on Thursday under the Health and Social Care Act, Animal Quackers must not operate for 28 days, amid concerns over sanitation and walkways at the farm.
An inspection was carried out by town hall environmental health staff last weekend at the Newchurch Old Road premises but the saga has been ongoing for more than six months.
Former kitchen fitter Mr Bork, 50, said: “They are saying people are being put at risk but it is in the same state as when they did their first investigation and they brought their own children out to the farm.”
He says he will be asking his Waterfoot-based solicitor Gareth Jones to apply for the order to be lifted on Monday.
Mr Bork added: “Ninety per cent of the work has been done we are just waiting for paint to dry now. It’s about putting washing stations in and making sure the walkways have straw and putting a fence around the mucking area.”
An online petition containing 725 signatures, opposing the council’s stance, has been compiled, featuring a number of parents who have held chidren’s parties there.
Mr Bork said he was angry that the order has resulted in the cancellation of two such parties, leaving around 40 youngsters disappointed.
But council bosses are adamant they were left with no choice after repeated failures to comply with health and safety advice.
Rebecca Lawlor, the council’s health and housing manager, said: “The council has been working very hard to persuade the operators of the business and owners of the premises to make the necessary improvements to Animal Quackers to make it a safe environment for visitors.
“We have given them more than enough opportunity to undertake the work. In its current state, the farm poses a significant risk to public health and puts visitors at risk of contracting illnesses which can have a long-term effect upon the health of people such as E-Coli and potential kidney failure.”
E-Coli can cause diarrhoea , fever and vomiting among adults but can result in potential kidney failure for young victims.
Coun Helen Jackson, housing and environment health cabinet member, said: “The council has a duty to protect the public.
“Unfortunately failing to act or not addressing the severity of the problem can lead to fatalities and we can’t allow that to happen.
“We’ve tried a whole host of actions from meetings and letters to more formal enforcement measures but still the owners have made little effort to address these issues.
“This has left the council no other alternative but to seek a formal closure of Animal Quackers until it can be operated in a safe and healthy manner.”
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