A CAMPAIGN to build a fence to protect swans and potentially save motorists’ lives in Middlewich is under threat.

Members of the Swan Support Group say they have lost funding that was promised in February from Cheshire East Council.

The group has been fighting for a fence to be erected along the Trent and Mersey Canal for years to stop swans wandering onto the road on Booth Lane.

Temporary fencing was put up around a year ago but it was always hoped that work would begin on a permanent solution before 2010.

Lena Porter, of the Swan Support Group, said: “It’s disappointing that what we were promised isn’t happening – and it took them seven months to tell us it wasn’t happening.”

According to Lena, British Waterways and Cheshire East Council were both set to provide £2,500 each for a wire fence, which would eventually become a hedge.

But assistant town clerk Stephen Dent, who organises the Swan Support Group’s meetings, received an email last week from Cheshire East’s highways department.

It revealed that council funds are not currently available.

“At the beginning of the year we had high hopes for this but it seems we missed the boat,” he said.Clr Simon McGrory, of Middlewich Town Council, added: “I think it’s disgraceful. The amount of money is miniscule compared to other projects.”

Between November 2008 and February 2009, five swans were killed and three were injured on Booth Lane.

Lena said: “They’re beautiful birds and it’s horrible when they die. Obviously we get quite upset about it.”

Stephen added: “It’s not just the safety of the swans we’re concerned about – it’s the safety of motorists.

“If you have a big swan in front of you and have to swerve to avoid it, it’s pretty dangerous.”

Over the weekend, the temporary fencing was also extended 150 metres by Animal Welfare.

Lena said: “For the time being we want to appeal to residents to put up with the fence. We know it’s not attractive but it’s necessary.”

A Cheshire East spokesman said: "Cheshire East Council remains fully supportive of the Booth Lane project.

"We continue to investigate sources of potential funding."