THE Blue Cross is pressing ahead with its controversial plans to close the Northiam pet sanctuary.
A staff member at the centre confirmed that horses have already been moved out of the equine centre at St Francis Field.
There was a storm of protest when the charity announced plans to pull out of the 38 acre Northiam site last year with a Facebook campaign called Keep Northiam Blue Cross Open attracting nearly 2,000 members.
There was also an angry public meeting in the village and the charity put its plans on hold.
But now it looks certain that the sanctuary, which cares for and re-homes pets in the Rye area, will pull out of the village.
A Blue Cross spokesperson said: “Following the charity’s decision last year to relocate its Northiam adoption centre, which is outdated and no longer fit for purpose, the Blue Cross has been searching for the right location for a modern new centre with facilities to help many more animals in the area.
“We are focussing our search in Kent and Sussex and the new facility will include a state of the art veterinary clinic, the charity’s first in the region. The clinic will offer subsidised treatment to the pets of people who cannot afford private vets, in response to a growing demand in the current economic climate.”
Rob Skinner, Blue Cross regional manager for London and the South East, said: “We have been doing lots of research to identify a location in a densely populated area where there is a strong demand for our services, where we can make a real difference to pets and their owners in the South East.
“We have exciting plans to build a new, modern facility which would not only take in homeless and abandoned animals, but also offer subsidised veterinary treatment to pets whose owners can’t afford a private vet. Many people have been struggling in the recession and this will be a real lifeline to those who may otherwise have had to give up their pets.”
Rob added: “It’s crucial that we find the right site where we can continue helping animals in the Northiam area, but also widen our reach to places further afield where there may be more need for our veterinary services, and more potential adopters to take in homeless pets.
“Once we have finalised our plans, we hope to call on our loyal supporters and other animal lovers to help raise the funds we need for this fantastic new facility in the South East. We can’t do it alone!”
The Blue Cross has said the Northiam centre will remain open for cats and dogs until a new site is ready to move into.
The equine facilities will officially close on June 30, with horses and ponies being transferred to the charity’s other equine centres or to new homes locally.
The Blue Cross has said there is no substance to rumours that they plan to sell off the Northiam site to housing development.
Northiam resident Karen Ayling said: “People are saddened by the prospect of losing an active, much loved institution right in the heart of the village as well as being very worried about the prospect of land, which we had always believed to be covenanted to be used solely for animal welfare, being sold off to build yet more characterless executive homes.”