Bullish opposition has forced a Bradford Council ‘ewe’-turn on proposals to allow animals such as cows, sheep, pigs or horses to graze on a well-known recreation ground used by children’s sports teams.

Workmen sparked public anger when they appeared unannounced and started to fence off Birk Hill Recreation ground in Thackley earlier this month so livestock could graze on the same land where junior sports teams train and pet-lovers walk their dogs.

Residents said it would be “grass-cutting on the cheap” and feared people could be injured if animals were allowed to roam free on the land, which has been a recreation area for more than 40 years.

Now, following a meeting between the Council and about 50 protesters, plans to fence off the area have been ditched.

Thackley councillor David Ward said: “It was clearly the Council officers’ intention to have an arrangement with a local farm but then they started talking about grazing pigs and sheep and all sorts to raise money and that was just not acceptable.

“We have managed to get agreement that grazing on the land would be inappropriate and incompatible with the current usage of the land by the local residents.”

Coun Ward and his colleague Jeanette Sunderland (Lib Dem, Idle and Thackley) started a campaign to stop fences being put up, which saw nearly 200 hits on networking site Facebook in the first two days after a story in the Telegraph & Argus highlighted their safety concerns.

“The response has been quite amazing,” said Coun Ward. “Within a day or two of the article, there were 197 people signed up to the campaign group. We’ve never had a response like that.”

A spokesman for Bradford Council’s asset management department said it was never the Council’s intention to deny public access to the land.

She said: “The purpose of the proposed fencing was to mark the site boundary and protect the land against encroachments and anti-social use.

“We explored the possibility of using the land for animal grazing as a means of reducing the cost of fencing and maintaining the land.

“Council officers have listened to concerns raised about the practicalities of the public sharing use of the land with grazing and the impact of the proposed fencing on the site.

“Taking these concerns into account it has been agreed that grazing will not be introduced and that, apart from a small area to the north of the site, the land will remain unfenced.”

e-mail: marc.meneaud @telegraphandargus.co.uk.