DAVID Gibbons took over Waterfarm Fishery in 2014 and has since ploughed nearly £200,000 of his own money into transforming it from its formerly run-down state.

However, last month the council completely blocked off the main access route linking the fishery to Redmere Drive due to safety concerns.

It means anglers now have to lug their tackle almost half a mile on foot to reach the fishery, proving a major setback to Mr Gibbons’ plans to breathe new life into the facility.

He said: “This is putting me out of business, I have lost about 85 per cent of custom.

“One or two people a day come up here now, but it should be full every weekend when the weather is nice.

“The 500 or 600 metre walk is putting people off — we have about 20 disabled members but they cannot get here now.

“We want to get back to where we should be, employing three of four people and having 30 to 40 people down here.”

In 2010, the council prevented cars from accessing the bridge, which is owned by Bovis Homes, due to safety concerns.

But, the state of the bridge has deteriorated so much that it has now had to be condemned completely.

The easiest way for anglers to reach the fishery is now on foot from Roach Bank Road in Pilsworth.

In a bid to attract members, Mr Gibbons has since decided to take matters into his own hands by installing passing points for cars on a nearby bridle path linking the road to the fishery.

“They have backed me into a corner and given me no other choice,” he said. “If I do not do this then I am going to lose my fishery.”

Selling up is not an option for the former infantry soldier, who describes the fishery as a “passion out of control”.

“This is my livelihood. I would rather lose everything I have got than give it up,” said Mr Gibbons.

“I will carry on fighting until I have nothing left.

“This is causing me so much stress and anxiety, I cannot sleep at night.

“I have a wife and three kids at home that I am trying to feed. Everything I have saved up over the years has been put into this fishery.

“It was my hobby and I wanted to get it to make money, but now I will be lucky to break even.”

A petition has been set up to try and get the council to reconsider closing the bridge and it has been signed by more than 1,000 people.

Recently, Mr Gibbons also complained that his members at his fishery were being affected by light pollution coming from a nearby industrial site.

However, Bury Council’s planning committee voted to allow the controversial lighting scheme to remain.

A Bury Council spokesman said: “The existing privately-owned bridge was closed to vehicular traffic in 2010 following engineers’ surveys which found it was unsafe for motor vehicles to use.

“More recent surveys showed that the bridge cannot bear any load at all, including pedestrians, cyclists and horses.

“In the interests of public safety we have had to take action to close it entirely and would advise people not to ignore the warnings at the bridge and cross it.

“The bridge is not owned by Bury Council and therefore we have no right to carry out repairs or maintenance work to the structure.” 

A spokesman for the bridge’s owner, Bovis Homes said: “We have received no communication from the council raising any concerns.  If the council wish to contact us directly then we will investigate.” 

The council spokesman added: “As we are the highways authority and have a responsibility to keep the bridleway open, we are investigating the possibility of building a new bridge nearby to that end. 

“We have commissioned feasibility studies on this, with a view to applying for the funding – potentially from the Mayor’s Challenge Fund — needed to build it.

“We will continue to have dialogue with the owner of the fisheries as this progresses. 

“Mr Gibbons has also been in touch with us about the creation of passing places on the bridleway between the fisheries and Pilsworth. 

“We have asked him to provide further information and assurances concerning these plans, and will assess the proposals once he does.”