Sex, dogs and drug dealing force woodland to close

Dog attacks, sexual activity and drug dealing have forced the closure of woodland after officials deemed it unsafe.

The woods
The woods

The Woodland Trust says it is the first time it has closed a woodland in the UK.

The action is a ‘last resort’ after a spate of problems that also include dog fouling and off-road bikes at Uffmoor Wood, near Halesowen, with complaints coming in weekly.

The trust has said that some of the worst offences at the wood include dogs being attacked by other pets and sheep killed on neighbouring land.

Trust staff say they have been verbally abused and knocked over by dogs and have also received complaints about groups of people meeting for sex.

Gareth Hopkins, regional operations manager for the Woodland Trust, said: “This is an absolute last resort, and we’re very sad to take such severe measures.

"Drug dealing, out of control dogs and dog fouling have made this wood unsafe, despite our best efforts to work with and educate the irresponsible dog owners.

“We desperately wanted to keep Uffmoor open for all to enjoy. We hope this is not a permanent measure, and we extend our thanks to the responsible dog walkers and local people who love and care about the wood.”

Previous efforts to tackle the concerns include posters reminding dog walkers about rules, and speaking face to face with visitors during community action days.

Staff from the trust said despite this, they had seen no positive change. The police have been involved on several occasions, but the situation has continued to get steadily worse.

The wood will close on Wednesday and be padlocked at every entrance.

Maintenance works will be carried out whilst the woodland is shut.

A trust spokeswoman said the closure was being treated as a permanent move, although staff hoped the site would reopen one day.

Ward councillor Margaret Sherrey said the news was ‘sad’. She said: “It’s a problem that’s been going on for some years. I can understand the reason they’re closing it but it’s just very sad because it’s down to the misbehaviour of other people.”

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