Outdoor adventure centre boss calls for ‘truce’ with Simonstone residents

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a BUSINESS owner is calling for an end to hostilities over his outdoor activity centre in Simonstone.

Jim Bowden has met fierce opposition since he set up Outdoor Elements in Pump House Dean wood in Trapp Lane.

Locals put together a 400-signature petition against the development, which offers abseiling, bush craft, aerial assault course and team-building exercises, and an application for town green status is still on-going.

But Mr Bowden feels aggrieved at the way he has been treated by Simonstone Parish Council and wants an end to it.

He said: “We have gone through all the proper processes to set up our business and develop the centre in Simonstone. What we have created here is a fantastic facility for the community and beyond. We get a lot of local customers in and they really enjoy it.

“We spoke to the parish council in 2008 and there didn’t seem to be any problems at that stage. But when we went forward with the planning application the council had some pretty strong objections to the application. It was a ‘not in my back yard’ attitude.

“Now the parish council will not let go of it. They are like a dog with a bone. It seems like a personal vendetta against us. I’m convinced they want to see us out of business.

“But we’re here to help the community and would like to see them come and talk to us and work together.”

Anger erupted at a parish council meeting recently during which the town green application was on the agenda.

The application, privately submitted by Mr Geoff Hodbod, who is also a parish councillor, would mean a designated area may not be able to be developed if awarded the status.

Outdoor Elements was granted full planning permission to operate on the site by Ribble Valley Borough Council.

Lee Bowden, who operates the business side of the family-run enterprise, said: “We challenged the parish council to object to the town green application.

“The parish council objected to our planning application for reasons including noise, increase in traffic and the fact the road was dangerous. The question Jim and I have is if there’s an application for a town green for the same area, surely the parish council should object on the same grounds.”

Former Parish Council chairman John Aizlewood, who has stepped down from the council for personal reasons, said: “The parish council has not made a view of whether it supports or is against the application. We are just a conduit to take forward the views of people in the village.

“There are people on the council who could have a vested interest. So the only way forward, from the parish council’s point of view, was to set up a working group. They will look at all the views and report back. They are impartial.”