Published: 00:00, 25 January 2002
AN ANIMAL sanctuary has come under fire over the handling of its livestock. Neighbours of the Friend Farmed Animal Rescue Centre in East Peckham, near Maidstone, are concerned that the animals kept by owner Marion Eastwood wander outside her property and on to Bush Road.
Paddy Hayes, one of eight residents who voiced their concerns at a meeting of the parish council, said: "Animals frequently wander in the street. Somebody at some stage is going to hit a cow or a pig."
Mr Hayes claimed that animal waste was not being properly disposed of and caused a smell and fly problem on warm days. He said: "We seem to have a lady with her heart in the right place but we believe such a charity cannot be run in a totally haphazard way."
He added: "Calling it an animal sanctuary is being generous. It is an area covered in rubbish and waste upon which animals are being allowed to roam."
But Mrs Eastwood dismissed their claims. She said: "If they think the standard of care for the animals is inferior to the care for animals they are happy to eat on a daily basis, I would be very grateful if they offered to raise some funds to support these animals that would be murdered, had I not taken them."
Mrs Eastwood, who keeps livestock at her sanctuary which otherwise would have gone to slaughter, described complaints about the smell of animal waste, as "rubbish."
She said Tonbridge and Malling council environment inspectors had told her they could not smell anything when they visited the site on a warm day.
She added: "I don't want the animals to go out on the road, but I don't know of anybody who keeps animals that hasn't had a break-out from time to time."
Mrs Eastwood said she would apply for a gate on a public footpath on her land to be turned into a stile because walkers failed to shut it behind them.
A RSPCA spokeswoman said Mrs Eastwood had been warned about the safety of her animals. She said: "Last week, chief inspector Steve Dockery found lots of animals on the road. He herded them back in and had a word with the owner."
Planning officers at Tonbridge and Malling council are currently investigating neighbours' claims that the sanctuary is not operating according to its regulations, with their findings expected in about a month's time.