RESIDENTS have had their say over divisive plans to bar access to a popular beauty and swimming spot.

Pickmere Parish Council announced last year plans to erect a fence around the village's lake in response to increasing anti-social behaviour.

Visitor numbers peaked during last summer's extraordinary heatwave, when day-tripper numbers rocketed to an estimated 600 per day.

This caused an increase in anti-social behaviour, including littering, excessive drinking, damage to grass and vegetation from barbecues, people defecating in bushes, and nuisance parking.

But the fence plan has sparked objections, with some residents holding a peaceful protest against its erection.

And on Tuesday (February 21), the parish council held a ballot to allow residents to vote on the plans.

Mark Dawson, who lives just one road away from the lake and voted against the fence, said it just won’t work.

Northwich Guardian: Clerk to the Pickmere Parish Council, Jack Steel, and, right, independent observer, Naomi Morris, at the voteClerk to the Pickmere Parish Council, Jack Steel, and, right, independent observer, Naomi Morris, at the vote (Image: Newsquest)

“The parish council is reaching for the easiest solution,” said Mark. "But it’s not aligned with common sense. It just won’t work.

“This isn’t a new phenomenon. The lake has been attracting visitors for more than 100 years.

“What we need is a meaning solution that will protect our environment, and to protect the lake as an amenity for future generations.

It’s not fair to put all the blame on the people. There are no bins, no toilet, and no car park.

“I swim and paddle board in the lake with my girlfriend’s son three or four times a week in summer. Where else can you do that on your own doorstep? To lose that would be unthinkable."

Another local resident, Karen Ogden, said: "I voted for the fence. Last year the traffic was utter chaos. It is a wonder nobody was killed.

“I would be a shame for the residents, but there has to be some sort of balance.

“The fence by itself won’t be enough. It will deter some people, but not everyone.

“It will impact me, sadly, as I take the dog down there. But we simply can’t have a repeat of last year.

“I think it’s great the parish council let us have a vote.”

Of 641 eligible voters, 307 people voted on the fence plan, of which 205 voted against the fence, while 101 voted for it. There was one spoiled ballot. 

The ballot is not binding, meaning the parish council is still free to go ahead with the fence if it so chooses. 

However the ballot result is set to be discussed at the next council meeting.