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Protected species takes up residence on busy Preston road

Posted on - 1st April, 2024 - 6:00am | Author - | Posted in - Broadgate, Preston News, Roads, Wildlife and Conservation
A pothole in Blackbull Lane, Fulwood Pic: FixMyStreet
A pothole in Blackbull Lane, Fulwood Pic: FixMyStreet

Edit: It is of course April Fools Day

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Preston’s crumbling roads have long been a source of frustration, with the large potholes on South Meadow Lane in Broadgate causing particular problems for residents and visitors to The Continental and Avenham and Miller Park. Now, hopes of a bump-free road have been scuppered by the unexpected presence of a protected species.

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The potholes had been scheduled to be filled-in around April 2025, but the repairs have been cancelled indefinitely due to the discovery of a small colony of Smooth Newts that have set up home in one of the largest potholes, only metres away from the River Ribble.

Due to their Conservation status under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981, the newts are protected from ‘disturbance or obstruction/destruction of places they use for shelter’, and consequently cannot be relocated.

Smooth Newts, the most debonaire members of the newt family, are normally found stuffing themselves full of midges and fresh air in mushy places. However, for some reason they’ve now chosen to slum it in a pothole.

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Newts in tray at Dobcroft Nature Reserve
The Smooth Newts are second cousins of the Great Crested Newts of Dobcroft Nature Reserve

Dr Alison Prillefullé, director of charity Newt In My Back Yard, said: “We’re delighted that these fascinating amphibians have made the decision to push back against the destruction of their natural habitats in this manner, and their safety must take priority over the convenience of any drivers or cyclists who want to use the road.”

The presence of the Smooth Newt has been made known to Lankyshire County Council who immediately pledged to go ‘above and beyond’ for the endangered amphibians by offering to introduce breeding pairs to several more of Preston’s deepest potholes, including those on Longsight Road, Sandygate Lane, Grizedale Crescent, Lightfoot Lane and a section of the A6 Garstang Road.

One pothole in Ashton-on-Ribble has been there so long and become so deep a plant is growing from it Pic: Dave Pemberton
One pothole in Ashton-on-Ribble has been there so long and become so deep a plant is growing from it Pic: Dave Pemberton

The World Wildlife Fund will cover the cost of surrounding the potholes with fox and cat proof mesh, while Council Tax will increase to fund traffic calming measures such as cameras, fines and loads more bollards.

However, some residents have expressed anger at the prospect of yet more costly roadworks on top of the significant and lengthy disruption already caused by the nearby improvement to flood defences. 

A resident who wishes to remain anonymous told Blog Preston: “I’m sick of the Council constantly messing with our roads, but at least the latest ones are to protect human lives from floods. This time it’s just because a bunch of stretched out frogs decided to start shagging in a puddle even when there’s an entire river right next to it. Why can’t we just throw them back? It’s political correctness gone wild.” 

A Council spokesperson said: “We are currently experiencing a high number of calls. Your call is very important to us. Please call back between the hours of 7.00am to 7.03am, Monday to Tuesday. Goodbye.”

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