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Huge support for Walsall school's bid to take over woodland plagued by anti-social behaviour

By Gurdip Thandi | Walsall | News | Published:

Hundreds of people have supported a Walsall school’s bid to take over woodland plagued by anti-social behaviour.

The edge of Radleys Wood from Kings Road in Rushall, Walsall. Photo: Google StreetView.

Radleys Woods, in Rushall, has become a magnet for drug-taking, arson and teenage thugs throwing sticks and stones, while an illegal racetrack has also been created there.

Juli Copley, head teacher at Radleys Primary School which is situated next to the area, said that last week a pupil came out of the woods screaming after picking up a sharp that had been discarded.

She presented a petition, carrying more than 2,100 signatures, at a full meeting of Walsall Council on Monday calling for the public space to be given to the school.

As well as combatting the problems they and the community suffers, Mrs Copley said it would enable them to gain ‘Forest School’ status and enhance the children’s education.

This is the third time the school has attempted to take over Radleys Wood but efforts in 2012 and 2018 failed to materialise.

Mrs Copley said: “We applied a petition within the local community and had over 2,176 signatories from children, staff, the community and the world at large. In fact, from every continent apart from Antarctica.

“We have very little green space at all and it’s important with our children returning post-Covid to give them the opportunity of access to open areas.

“We have a tiny bit of land for nearly 300 children so what the woodland would do for us is let us physically deliver the curriculum.

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“More importantly, we could extend the mental health and wellbeing work and promote our active lifestyle and that is particularly important as some of our children have returned with significant weight gain.

Numerous fires

“There has been a significant increase in the last two years in anti-social behaviour. We have had a racetrack dug through the woodland and it is in danger of being destroyed.

“We’ve had numerous fires. On Friday, when the children were going home a child came out screaming after picking up a sharp.

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“We’ve had teenagers who regularly throw bricks over the gates at the children, they swear at them, throw branches and sticks.

“We want to be able to provide a safe haven for both our children to access but also to create an area so the local community know we can eradicate that anti-social behaviour.

“For the council, we’re all expected to do more for less and what we would do if we were gifted the woodland and the surrounding area would be to pay for it.”

Council leader Mike Bird said: “We all see the passion Mrs Copley has in relation to not only the school but the children.

“This is designated public open space and therefore it will need to be referred to cabinet where hopefully we will come forward with a proposal that will satisfy the school.”

Councillors Oliver Butler and Chris Towe, portfolio holders for clean and green and schools respectively, both said they supported the idea.

Gurdip Thandi

By Gurdip Thandi
@Gurdo

Local Democracy Reporter covering Walsall.

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