Horse rescue centre closes as staff "publically castigated"
A county animal rescue centre has closed down after workers there claimed to have been abused by "misguided supporters".
The Horses and Ponies Protection Association (HAPPA) centre in Brockweir, has shut and several animals moved to another site in Burnley. HAPPA bosses said the closure is temporary but added that no long term decision has been taken yet.
A statement from HAPPA said: "Following a crisis meeting held on Wednesday December 19 the HAPPA board of directors have announced that they are shutting down operations at Gregory Farm, their equine rescue and rehabilitation centre situated in Brockweir, as a temporary emergency measure due to mounting local pressure.
"The charity is currently considering their future at the site although no final decision has yet been made and will not be made until an internal consultation process is complete and hoped to be able to continue running the centre whilst this process is on-going but recent events have forced temporary closure to protect staff living and working on site and to ensure that there is no risk to equine welfare by misguided supporters."
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HAPPA chairman Ken Cranage added: "Every responsible charity trustee has an obligation to effectively manage their charity and my board take full responsibility for doing their best to ensure the future sustainability of HAPPA.
"Sometimes this means making minor adjustments to operations and sometimes this means considering more radical changes. We are currently reviewing our position at Gregory Farm but until further staff consultations have taken place no decision can be made as to how we will eventually proceed.
"Despite stating earlier in the process that we will circulate further information as soon as a decision has been made speculation and rumour continues to grow and local feelings are running high.
"Our staff are being publically, and at times quite personally castigated for doing their job as instructed by the board but recent abusive behaviour towards local management is now putting unacceptable pressure on staff members and highlights potential risks to the horses remaining on site. We have a duty of care to our staff and our animals and as a result now feel that we have no option other than the temporary closure of Gregory Farm as an emergency measure."
A number of horses from Gregory Farm have already been relocated to the charity's Northern Centre and HQ near Burnley. Remaining horses will be transferred and the site will be secured until a final decision regarding HAPPA's future at Brockweir is made.
Staff members continue to be employed but will remain at home on full pay during the closure.