Poo, urine and ladies of the night ruling laybys of quiet Lancashire village

Looks can be very deceiving in many sleepy little villages – and those in Lancashire are absolutely no exception. Innocent looking little laybys in a village in north Garstang are said to have been hit by prostitution, suspected drug dealing and other illicit activities. The laybys, in the village of Cabus are said to be haunts of ‘ladies of the night’ and ‘strange people doing odd things in the middle of the night.’

Chairman of Cabus Parish Council Councillor Robert Hastings says the nocturnal activities, along with dumping of human excrement, littering and fly tipping, are taking place on Woodfold Lane, just off the A6, and have been going on for some time. But the situation has got so bad that nearby residents have complained to the parish council and are calling for action. Read more: Who should become the next prime minister?

Nestled north of Garstang, midway between Preston and Lancaster, the small village and parish is picturesque and somewhat off the beaten track, with a population of 1522 at the last census The gorgeous, rural area, surrounded by farmland, is popular with holidaymakers and boasts a number of caravan and camping sites in the vicinity. The average house in Cabus fetched GBP299,217 over the last year, with most sales being detached properties, selling for an average price of GBP401,238, according to property website Right Move, while semi-detached properties sold for an average of GBP227,500 there. Just six crimes were recorded there in May, according to police.uk, with two of those being violence and sexual offences.

Yet around half a dozen disgusted nearby residents living near to the secluded spot have called for action to tackle the alleged goings on. At a parish council meeting on Monday, July 11, according to Councillor Hastings, councillors resolved to place matter in the hands of police.

Woodfold Lane layby in Cabus, near Preston.Woodfold Lane layby in Cabus, near Preston.

He told Lancs Live: “It is a concern, and for the people that live there, but we can’t run out there with our truncheons and our handcuffs to sort it out – we have passed it onto the police, and they are aware of it and they have been aware of it for several months; I think they have increased patrols in the area.” “Residents have been aware of it for several months, and as far as I’m aware, I know it covers everything that’s covered by the term ‘prostitution.’ If no money changes hands, it’s none of our business, but if money changes hands, it’s against the law and it’s a police matter.

“It is happening in Woodfold Lane, which used to be part of the A6 until the 1930s, so it’s kind of a lay-by. If it’s just fornication, it’s none of our business if no money is involved – but if money changes hands, it is prostitution and a matter for the police.

Scene near Cabus, north of GarstangScene near Cabus, north of Garstang

“It came to our attention from residents that live on Woodfold Lane, who basically complained to us. I have no idea about it whatsoever, but it has been reported to the police.

I would like to see the police do something and prosecute the people involved, if they can catch them, to stop it happening.” Yet Councillor Hastings said the alleged illicit goings on had appalled residents in the lovely village, adding that the Woodfold Lane layby was used as a resting place for large lorries, with concerned residents complaining that the spot was attracting prostitutes. Highlighting how the issue had not detracted from the idyllic nature of the village, he added: “People feel safe in Cabus, it’s as safe a place as you could live, but it’s a case of we need this situation sorting out.

It’s an old bit of road that was a bypass in the 1930s. “It’s a place where big lorries pull up and rest and it’s an obvious resting place, and there’s also a food stall there. Cabus is a very nice place indeed, and it is a bit shocking to all of us; we’re all a little bit surprised but there we go.

We would like the police to sort it out but it’s not our job – it’s a police matter.”

Fowler Hill layby in Cabus, near Preston.Fowler Hill layby in Cabus, near Preston.

Parish council clerk Doctor Louise Banton told Lancs Live that there were two laybys on either side of the A6 road, including the one on Woodfold Lane and Fowler Hill Lane opposite – and that the concerns applied to both sides. She said the parish council had complained about the nocturnal activities on the Woodfold Lane side to Lancashire County Council almost three years ago and about the Fowler Hill Lane one last year. In a letter of July 2019 to the county council, seen by Lancs Live, she said: “At the Parish Council Meeting on 20 May 2019, Councillors received distressing reports of the stress and misery being experienced by the residents as a result of the lane being used as an overnight truck-stop for commercial vehicles which has promoted littering (including excrement and bottles of urine), prostitution and suspected drug-exchanges.”

The letter goes on to state: “Cabus Parish Council is appalled at the issues which the residents of Woodfold Lane are experiencing on an almost nightly basis – which, in addition to the above, include sleep disturbance from engine noise throughout the night, loss of visual amenity, difficulty accessing their properties due to the bumper to bumper double parking of HGVs and the fear, stress and distress caused by having unknown individuals and vehicles gathering outside of properties late at night.” Dr Banton told Lancs Live that one councillor had complained to police and to MP Ben Wallace in a letter which highlighted ‘regular incidences of prostitution, “dogging” (even mentioned in a relevant website!) and, more worrying, drug-dealing,’ telling the county council: “Residents in an otherwise peaceful area are too scared to venture outside their homes and one told me that she thought to take photographs of the drug-exchanges but was fearful for her safety. “

Fowler Hill Lane layby in Cabus, near Preston.Fowler Hill Lane layby in Cabus, near Preston.

“All this is wholly unacceptable to the inhabitants of Woodfold Lane, let alone Garstang as a whole, and I would appreciate your thoughts and advice as to how this state of affairs might be curtailed.” Speaking to Lancs Live directly, she said: “There are two laybys, directly opposite each other, that’s where all the lorries have pulled in for parking purposes. On Woodfold Lane, there are residential properties, but on the Fowler Hill Lane side, there are no residential properties, but the same issues apply to both of them. “Wyre Borough Council are responsible for the litter, the human excrement, the urine bottles that are found, and the police are responsible for any alleged anti anti social behaviour and other issues.

Residents have always said, enough is enough, but it’s been difficult for them to report it to police as there are very few residents there and they don’t want to be associated as having alerted police on this, so they have reported it to the parish council, and we have reported it to the police. “If you look around Cabus, we’ve got beautiful nature walks around Cabus and things like caravan parks. It’s a very quiet, rural location, and the only hotspots are these laybys with prostitution and drug drops and things like that.

It’s just been a nightmare for years and years, with the the waste disposal, the fly tipping, the food waste disposal, the litter – all this is regularly reported but the combination of the prostitution and the drug drops is completely and utterly intolerable. We’re very mindful of county lines with human tracking, which is why we don’t want all these lorries and potentially all the activities that might be taking place.”

Scene near Cabus, north of GarstangScene near Cabus, north of Garstang

Wyre Borough Councillor Sir Robert Atkins for Garstang ward, former MP for Preston North and South Ribble, and former MEP for North West England, explained to Lancs Live that the laybys were on a ‘little piece of old fashioned road,’ and would see between a dozen to potentially 15 to 16 lorries parked on some nights, eschewing the fee paying facilities further up the road in Carnforth. However, he said the top end of Woodfold Lane had half a dozen houses who were faced with a ‘reasonably substantial number of heavy vehicles’ parked in the vicinity.

Mentioning claims of drug related offences, passing ‘ladies of the night,’ human excrement and waste, and ‘people doing strange things at odd times of night,’ he said Wyre Borough Council was now cleaning the area twice weekly and that police had promised to look at it more closely. He told Lancs Live: “The problem is that in recent months, over the last 18 months, there has been a particular problem with drug taking, and there’s been some suggestion that people have been flogging drugs in the layby, although it’s not necessarily to do with the drivers. “Secondly…there are no toilet facilities, so you can imagine that there’s quite a lot of human waste about sometimes, and there’s been some suggestion from locals that ladies of the night have appeared to provide facilities for some of the drivers.

Now you can imagine therefore the residents are pretty annoyed about the fact that this has been going on and getting worse, and given that the Garstang area is an amazingly quiet and pleasant part of the world where these sorts of things don’t normally go on, they’ve been a bit annoyed.”

Woodfold Lane layby in Cabus, near Preston.Woodfold Lane layby in Cabus, near Preston.

He said the matter had been raised to Wyre Borough Council, the county council, who had fee paying facilities for lorry drivers up the road in Carnforth, and the police, adding that the matter was being considered, but that everyone ‘passed the buck.’ However, he said police had agreed to look at the area more regularly, adding: “In practical terms, they l can’t force drivers to the facilities in Carnforth which is another five or ten miles further up the motorway. “We took the matter up with the police in the first instance, particularly in relation to the prostitution and also the drug problems, and the police, inevitably, have got quite a lot of priorities and Garstang is not an area of high crime, so whilst they did some checks, they never really found anything, or said they didn’t. “The other problem was clearing away the waste and various rubbish that was there, and I determined that Wyre Borough Council is responsible for cleansing the area, so they now go there twice a week to clear things up.

But the other point really is that this involves the county if not actually the police because of potential criminal activities and the borough in terms of cleansing, and of course the parish council who have got residents complaining about it.

Scene by the village of Cabus, north of PrestonScene by the village of Cabus, north of Preston

“So as is often the case when you’ve got, two, three, or four organisations involved, everyone passes the buck, but the long and short of it is that I took the matter up with the Police and Crime Commissioner and his deputy, and they have undertaken to get the police to look more regularly and more efficiently into what’s going on, so hopefully, something may come of that.” Yet he added: “But you still have potential problems of nuisance in relation to rubbish, detritus, people doing strange things and at odd times of the night, not to mention the fact that if you’ve got a dozen or more lorries parking and generally manoeuvring in what is a residential area, the locals get pretty fed up with it.” A spokesperson for Lancashire Constabulary told Lancs Live: “We are aware of the concerns and it looks like an officer will be in attendance at the next parish council meeting to speak to residents and give an update.” Wyre Borough Council and Lancashire County Council were also contacted for comment.