Padlocked gate to closed golf course removed completely after access row

A gate that was padlocked to keep residents out of a green space has now been removed completely by the council – a win for campaigners who want to keep the space freely open for all to use.

Clive Heywood at the entrance to Brandhall Golf Course
Clive Heywood at the entrance to Brandhall Golf Course

In a continuing row to keep Brandhall Golf Course open, the gate into the Oldbury course was padlocked in December. It was reopened after local people raised concerns to Sandwell Council.

They claimed that the gate had been locked illegally and was an entrance to a public right of way.

But this month, one resident, Clive Heywood, noticed the gate had been chained up again, after he requested the gate to be unlocked.

He said: “Imagine my surprise! The entrance to the right of way is locked.

“To stay I am disappointed is an understatement!  Why, having agreed that the entrance to the public right of way should not be closed have they locked it again?

“This action is futile as it will not stop people getting on the site as there is an ‘unofficial’ entrance a few yards away – a gap in the perimeter fence. Are the council being ‘bloody minded’ about the whole thing?”

But in response to the row the council has removed the gate itself.

Mr Heywood also noted a conflict of interest over Tree Preservation Orders (TPO) at Brandhall golf course.

In a Freedom of Information request sent by Mr Heywood, Sandwell Council said: “Dear Clive Heywood, Re: your request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000

“I write further to your request, which was received on 25 November 2021, for information relating to Trees preservation orders on the former site of Brandhall golf course

“You asked: I would like a list of the trees ( with approx. ages) of the trees on the site of the former golf course at Brandhall that have Tree Preservation Orders on them.

“Response: Trees owned by the council and on council owned land are not made subject of Tree Preservation Orders so none of the trees on the site are subject to preservation orders.”

But a document entitled Arboricultural Constraints by Sandwell Council, it states:  “Many of these trees are covered by a TPO and an application to the LPA will be required should any works take place that could affect these trees.”

Tree Preservation Orders are made by local planning authorities in England to protect specific trees, groups of trees or woodlands in the interests of amenity.

The orders prevent the cutting down, topping, lopping, uprooting, wilful damage, or wilful destruction of trees without the local planning authority’s written consent.

It comes as residents who live close to Brandhall golf course, including members of Brandhall Green Space Action Group (BGSAG), from Old Warley, Langley Green and Bristnall, are campaigning to keep the land as an accessible green space and to stop urban development on the land.

It is earmarked for a plan to create Brandhall Village which consists of 550 homes, a large new public park, space for a new replacement for Causeway Green primary school, pedestrian and cycle links, and new wildlife areas.

A spokesperson for Sandwell Council said: “We have no record of the council having put a padlock on this particular gate at this public right of way and we are looking into whether this was put on by a third party.

“As soon as it was brought to our attention this morning that the gate had been locked again, an officer went out to remove the padlock. The gate itself has been removed this afternoon  (Friday) to ensure the right of way remains open.”

The council also said their response to the Freedom of Information request was correct.

“The TPOs mentioned in the document DC/12/55410 Arboricultural  Constraints  para 4,4  relate to a parcel of land adjacent to but not within the golf course itself.

“They were wrongly identified as having TPOs by a private company that conducted the survey. The council will look to amend the documents accordingly.”

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