Heysham mussel row hots up

Mussel pickers at the slipway at the bottom of Oakley Road in Heysham.
Mussel pickers at the slipway at the bottom of Oakley Road in Heysham.

Residents are piling the pressure on Lancaster City Council over a decision to allow mussel fishing at the end of their street.

Householders on Oakley Road are stepping up a campaign to stop fishermen driving down their road to access mussel beds from a slipway on Heysham Promenade.

David Morris, MP for Morecambe, and Government agency English Nature have now been asked for help.

Adam Hanlon, a diving instructor and resident, also spoke in front of councillors at a meeting last Wednesday wanting to know why the decision was made.

But after his allotted time to speak expired, Mr Hanlon continued to demand answers from the back of the hall and he was asked to leave.

“I got a little heated,” said Mr Hanlon afterwards.

“But they didn’t really answer my question. I was just trying to get to the bottom of what’s going on. I came away thinking there was no point in me going.”

Mr Hanlon has written repeatedly to the council since the mussel beds reopened in August and they decided to change the access point from the Battery to the Oakley Road slipway for “safety reasons”.

He says the high level of vehicles going up and down Oakley Road is dangerous for pedestrians and noisy for neighbours. Mr Hanlon also fears the work may be affecting local birdlife.

Another resident, Iain Dunton, wrote to the council saying: “I am not wanting to stop the mussel picking as I understand that the fishermen are making a living. However, I do feel that the location for the bagging is inappropriate and should be returned to the Battery for all future picking seasons.”

Rob Benson, director of Kingfisher Seafoods of Barrow-in-Furness who is running the shellfish operation, told The Visitor in August he understood residents’ feelings but this was “the most organised operation from everybody’s perspective that we’ve ever had.”

Mark Cullinan, chief executive of Lancaster City Council, said the council’s stance “has not changed” and said “the fishermen have a common law right to access the bay to make their living”.

David Morris said: “Whilst I have no authority over the council I would be happy to provide the residents with a letter of support should they ask for one.”