Residents are up in arms after ‘private land’ signs were put up around a popular sledging field in Sutton-in-Craven.

Villagers say the land, known locally as Thompson’s Field, off Holme Lane, has long been used for sledging but several ‘prohibited access’ signs were put up on Friday, taking the amenity away from local children.

Manure was also spread on the field on Saturday morning, which angered people even more.

The field is the subject of a planning application for the development of 53 houses, which was rejected by Craven District Council’s planning committee. The developer appealed and the Planning Inspectorate has yet to rule on the matter.

“Putting the signs up was bad enough,” said Crispin Driver, who lives just outside Sutton. “But the owners then took it upon themselves to spread muck on the field.

“There is no agricultural need to spread muck on the ground. What they’re doing is morally wrong.”

Sutton resident Janice Garlick said: “I think these signs may have gone up so the planning inspector won’t see it as a recreational field, which could jeopardise the application.”

Mr Driver and Mrs Garlick said the field has been used for sledging by villagers for nearly 70 years.

“Spreading muck on it to prevent children from sledging is a bit too far,” said Mr Driver.

Sutton councillor Ken Hart said: “I’ve lived here since 1962 and since even before then it’s always been a sledging field and nobody’s ever objected.

“I think the signs are a message to the inspector that this is a private field, but it won’t have an impact on the appeal.

“This just rubs people’s backs up.”

David Thompson, the field’s co-owner, declined to comment.

But one local farmer, who did not want to be named, said there may have been agricultural reasons for the manure spreading.

He said: “The ground has been so soft, but last week the snow and frost hardened up the fields making it easier to spread manure.

“If you go out with a tractor before the ground freezes, you’ll leave a hell of a mark. Putting muck on a green field will eventually encourage the grass to grow and improve the soil structures.”