Cats moved from Wolverhampton rescue centre after 'cattery' planning row

An animal rescuer looking after up to 70 cats at a semi-detached house in Wolverhampton has been told to apply for a cattery licence or be shut down.

Sally Edwards from Ashmore Park, Wednesfield, pictured with her cat Smokey back in 2010
Sally Edwards from Ashmore Park, Wednesfield, pictured with her cat Smokey back in 2010

The Arc, which operates from a four-bedroom house in Gadsby Avenue, Ashmore Park, has been open for five years and during that time has rehoused more than 1,000 rescued cats.

But owner Sally Edwards said the council has threatened to issue an enforcement order on the premises, forcing her to close down and get rid of the cats she is in the process of rehousing.

Ms Edwards, who has two grown-up sons, said: “It is just totally devastating.”

She said the centre was visited by an environmental health officer and a planning officer in recent days.

They inspected the centre and believed she was running a ‘cattery’ and issued her with an enforcement notice.

“I explained that it wasn’t a cattery, it was a cat rescue centre – and there is a difference. But they wouldn’t listen to me and said I needed a licence,” she said.

“I’m absolutely heartbroken and need to do something now or it will mean all the cats, many of which are in the process of being rehoused, will be taken away and more than likely put to sleep.”

“I can’t believe it after all this time. Wolverhampton Council have actually asked me to take cats in off the street before now.”

Friends and supporters of the centre have been posting messages of support for Ms Edwards on Facebook and a petition, to be delivered to Councillor Steve Evans, cabinet member for the environment at Wolverhampton Council, to save it has attracted nearly 9,000 signatures.

A Wolverhampton Council spokesman said: “We have received several complaints regarding environmental health concerns at a domestic property in Ashmore Park.

“Following a visit to the private semi-detached house, we discovered it to be home to more than 70 cats and officers have raised issues regarding animal welfare, nuisance (odour) and no planning permission.

“Council officers from Environmental Protection and Planning are now working together. At this stage, no formal action has been taken. The council is working with the RSPCA to move forward.”

By Joe Sweeney

Local Democracy Reporter

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