Dovestone stakeholders admit visitor numbers causing “real problems” for local residents

A NEW action plan for managing the numbers of visitors to Dovestone Reservoir could bring “much needed relief” for local residents.

The proposals were outlined at a summit meeting revealed in last month’s Independent and attended by local residents, Oldham East and Saddleworth MP Debbie Abrahams plus representatives from the main agencies who run the site – United Utilities, the RSPB and Oldham Council.

Partners agreed their goal is to work towards a ‘community led visitor strategy.’

Parking at Waterside

Electronic signage, CCTV and modified car parking charges could all be part of the solution in a bid to tackle anti-social behaviour, inconsiderate parking and increased littering.

Since the meeting Oldham Council has agreed to introduce an emergency order for no waiting and no loading at the entrance to the Waterside/Tanners Mill site in Greenfield.

This follows complaints of obstruction to residents and deliveries by inconsiderate Dovestone visitors.

Ross Evans, the Estates and Land Manager at United Utilities, said on behalf of the Dovestone partnership: “The site has become increasingly popular this year as people rediscover the scenery on their doorstep when so many of their usual events or leisure activities have been cancelled.

“While we never promote the site, the sheer numbers of visitors have caused real problems for those who live locally.

“That’s why we committed to developing a sustainable management plan for the future.

“We’ve worked hard to come up with the right solutions for the site and I’m grateful for the support and involvement of local residents and their MP.

“This is an ongoing collaboration and we hope that as our action plan is put in place it will bring much needed relief to those who live in and around Dovestone.”Mrs Abrahams said: “I was delighted to co-ordinate a follow up meeting of key stakeholders, community representatives and residents regarding a new visitors’ strategy for Dovestone.

“We agreed that wider community engagement is needed to help prioritise action and that this will follow an independent traffic assessment in the New Year.

“There are various hurdles to overcome including how we fund the final action plan.

“But there was a very constructive and co-operative approach in the group which was really positive.

“Clearly, we won’t be able to resolve everything overnight, but there’s a real willingness from local people and partners and that’s a great start. I look forward to reviewing progress next February.”

Andrew Taylor, Resident and Chair of Greenfield and Grasscroft Residents’ Association, said: “I was very heartened by the strategic approach and wide-ranging list of possible measures, associated with the possibility of a resident forum to enhance cooperation.

“As every resident, I hope for the quickest timescale and most generous funding whilst understanding the realities of what a large coordinated project with resilience and longevity must be.”

There has been mixed reaction to the proposals.

Commenting on the Independent’s Facebook page, Paul McNulty wrote: “I’m not hopeful but at least there appears to be a long overdue recognition that the current situation is unacceptable.
“Marshalls on ‘certain weekends’ isn’t going to work as the weather was appalling on Saturday and the car park was rammed.

“Marshalls are going to have to be a permanent feature if the current level of visitors continues.”
Oliver Jones wrote: “All this whilst they are talking about building 171 houses in the greenbelt land next to Dovestone… absolutely deluded.”

Ben Fox added: “Only one of them is actually a proactive measure and it’s one that’s already been tried with some – but by no means total – success.”

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