A PETITION has been launched to save a popular tourist attraction that faces a court battle with Rossendale Council.

Petting farm Animal Quackers, in Newchurch Old Road, Bacup, is being prosecuted by the council in April over several issues, including selling animals without a pet shop licence and offering donkey rides without a licence.

The attraction has also appealed the refusal of a planning application at the site, which owner Terry Bork said has left a “dark cloud” hanging over the future of the farm.

Mr Bork said: “We have appealed the planning refusal and are confident the issues have been sorted.

“I really think the council are trying to close us down, but we are one of the best attractions in Bacup and we are very popular.

“We need to be working together with the council, and not against each other, and I have told them this.”

Animal Quackers, which opened four years ago, offers visitors the chance to interact with rabbits, Guinea pigs, chinchillas, mice and snakes.

Planning officers had served a notice against the attraction which would have stopped the barn being used as a provision for visitors and entertainment.

Mr Bork said: “The issues have left a dark cloud hanging over the future of Animal Quackers, we have put a lot of time in to this and have tried to do everything the council has asked of us.”

A petition set up by a customer on March 20 called ‘Save Animal Quackers’ has already attracted over 350 signatures.

Coun Christine Lamb, portfolio holder for operations and development control, said: “No one disagrees that petting farms are enjoyable, educational experiences for families but they are subject to higher health and safety controls than normal farms.”

A council spokeswoman said: “The council can confirm that it has been working with the owner of the facility to provide a safe, secure, enjoyable tourist facility for the Valley.

“As the local authority for Rossendale, we have a duty to make sure that all measures are undertaken to ensure Animal Quakers is safe.

“Rossendale Council can confirm it is not taking action to close down Animal Quackers and has never served a closure against the premises.”