A FAMILY has vowed to fight a bid to close their horse sanctuary.
Cawthorne-based Alberts Horse Sanctuary, home to 21 older horses, has been told to pull down its stables and cabin.
Barnsley Council says the 12-stable sanctuary, which has a charity shop in Scissett, is an inappropriate development on the green belt and has refused retrospective planning permission.
An initial deadline to demolish the buildings was set for this Saturday, but following a meeting with the council’s planning officers last week a four-week extension has been granted.
The stables were founded in 2005 and became a registered charity in May 2006.
Last month owner Mary Hepworth and her family picketed outside the council’s headquarters in a bid to save the sanctuary, also home to seven sheep, three goats, three pigs, four cats and two rabbits.
Mary (pictured) said it was impossible to just pick up and move unless somebody donated them 30 acres of land.
And she said the horses would die if they were forced to close.
She said: “After the meeting the council told us they would never ever give us planning permission on the green belt, but they wouldn’t tell us why other people have been given it. They’ve given us a month to decide what we’re going to do but they want us to move the sanctuary.
“We’ve got somebody trying to help us and we’ll see what local councillors can do for us but the way planning are treating us isn’t right.
“They are trying to walk all over us. What have they got against a sanctuary, it’s a sad state of affairs?”
Mary also claimed saboteurs were at work as a number of unpleasant incidents had happened at the sanctuary recently, including gates being left open, horses let out and equipment being tampered with. She added: “We’ve been reported for cruelty to two horses. It’s not nice when people are trying to get horses taken off us.
“I’ve got vet’s certificates for both horses – they are well taken care of.
“It does upset you when you spend all your life trying to look after them.
“People are trying different ways to get rid of us but we’re not going anywhere even if we have to picket and stay at the sanctuary.
“I’m not letting these horses die.”
A spokesman for Barnsley Council’s planning department said the stables were too large for the green belt and were not considered essential.
The spokesman also said other stables in the vicinity had been refused planning permission.
If you can offer free legal help or support the Hepworths in fighting to save the horse sanctuary visit www.albertshorsesanctuary.com