The article below was in the Harrow Times & Watford Observer dated 26.06.18, concerning London Colney Lakes.
A community of fishermen who are using the same spot in Hertfordshire for 84 years say they have been treated “poorly” since the decision not to renew their licence was taken.
Barnet and District Angling Club have fished the waters of Broad Colney Lakes in St Albans for decades – but in May the club was told the land was due to be sold.
They were left heartbroken when Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust told them the news.
Club secretary of 20 years, David Porter, said he noticed the club’s membership “diminish” significantly since receiving the news, to 350 from at one time around 600 members. He said the drop was brought about because of the “loss of the lakes”.
The club formed in 1934 and the original “lease” to fish the London Colney waters – a “key” area for the community – was established by “gentleman’s agreement”.
Then, in the 1980’s, the club was given an official licence in the form of a ten-year rolling agreement.
However, in 2014/15 the decision was taken by the Trust not to renew the licence on a ten-year basis and a one-year contract was offered and accepted, with three subsequent renewals thereafter.
Then in May this year, the angling club received an email telling them they “no longer had the right” to fish in Broad Colney while negotiations were happening.
David, 70, said: “This has had a major effect on the Club. They started to put restrictions on the areas where we could fish all based on health and safety issues, which we couldn’t argue with.
“The sale of the land was always out there but had been mooted. Then we were told a year ago there would likey be a sale.
“We’ve had a big drop in membership, its diminished the club because the more members you have the more money you can get, the more you can do – and up to now our licence allowed us to make improvements to the lakes.
“No credence was given to 84 years as a tenant. We wanted to open it up to more people and bring in the young; to go for grants to improve the fishery but that didn’t hold a lot of weight. The club feels strongly we have been poorly treated by the Trust.
“If you’re a golfer at your local club and it closes and you have to travel around you deal with it, there is little allegiance to something you can’t have anymore.”
David said the club would still like to “come to some agreement” to continue fishing at Broad Colney.
Dr Tom Day, Head of Living Landscapes, Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust:“We have been happy to lease part of Broad Colney Lakes to Barnet and District Angling Club over the years but that lease has come to an end and their tenancy has expired.
“In the past we have extended the lease on a rolling basis to the club but last year the decision was made to put Broad Colney Lakes on the market as it no longer represented the best use of our charity funds that could be used elsewhere to greater effect.
“This meant that we were unable to extend the lease as we have done in the past as we won’t own the site going forward. The sale is currently in the hands of our solicitors and there is no confirmed sale as of yet.”