Crime hotspot footpath in Dudley closed by council

A Black Country footpath which has become a hotspot for anti-social behaviour has been closed by council bosses.

Quarry Park, in Upper Gornal. Photo: Google
Quarry Park, in Upper Gornal. Photo: Google

The footpath, which links Stonemill Walk to Quarry Park, in Upper Gornal, Dudley, was closed in August following complaints from residents.

Upper Gornal and Woodsetton councillor Adam Aston said reported incidents have included assaults on residents and vandalism to private property.

But a petition has been launched by other residents calling for the footpath to reopen because it is popular walking route used by the community.

Railings located at the entrance have been bolted into the tarmac, preventing people from accessing the route.

Councillor Aston said: "I understand there has been a quite considerable amount of anti-social behaviour in and around Quarry Park and Stonemill Walk for a number of years.

"I understand one or more persons was assaulted who actually lives on Stonemill Walk and there was criminal damage to people's houses.

"The council has closed a gap in the fence between Stonemill Walk and Quarry Park in a bid to help things calm down.

"I understand it is a temporary closure. Obviously to close a public right of way permanently requires quite a legal process such as by a court, magistrates or secretary of state."

He added: "All three ward councillors understand the concern and frustrations of local residents [about reopening the path] but I believe the closure was done with the best of intentions by the council. There are a number of other entrances."

Solution

The petition calling for the footpath to reopen has amassed more than 270 signatures.

The petition's author, Lucy Watton, said: "Unfortunately by closing the path, they have now affected the wider community as there is no safe access from that side of the park.

"The others are all completely unlit, away from the road, unmaintained, overgrown and havens for local youth.

"This is evident from the amount of empty beer cans, broken glass and silver canisters that line them."

In response to the Express & Star's story, Dudley Council leader Patrick Harley said: "This is a temporary closure of the public right of way in Stonemill Walk following a number of complaints about anti-social behaviour.

"It included damage to property and assault which is simply not acceptable, and we moved quickly to protect local people.

"We take all concerns of this nature very seriously, whilst also listening to the views of the public who use this right of way.

"Therefore, we are keeping this matter under constant review to determine the best possible long term solution for everyone.

"We are aware there are several alternative access points that can allow the community to still enjoy the open space and we will do all we can to make sure the area remains accessible to the public."

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