DOVESTONE marshals will be donning their high-vis jackets throughout the summer at the Greenfield beauty spot thanks to a £4,560 boost from local councillors.
Saddleworth and Lees District Executive/Partnership agreed at their June meeting to pledge the off-one sum of money to help secure the services of the new marshals over the next few months.
Nine councillors will each donate £500 from their individual allowances, with the remainder being made up from the Executive/Partnership pot.
The money has been added to £1,440 from RSPB, another £1,440 from United Utilities and an initial £960 from the Peak District National Park Authority.
This will ensure the marshals can be at the site as needed every fine weekend until September 9, working an eight-hour shift from 10am-6pm at £240 per day.
The scheme has been introduced at the reservoir after an unprecedented number of visitors flocked to the spot to enjoy recent sunny weekends.
Visitors left behind a trail of litter and rubbish, there were reports of drug taking, excessive drinking and barbecues – banned because of the risk of moorland fires – and there were traffic issues which led to distraught families nearby being marooned in their homes.
PC Lee Cullen told the Executive/Partnership meeting: “You will all be aware of the carnage over the first bank holiday weekend in May, and it has been busy every weekend since.
“We have identified the right people to address it and do the job.
“That includes the Dovestone Marshals, and we’ve now put them in place and given them a remit. The response has been fantastic and it is running very smoothly.
“Wearing their yellow bibs, they meet and greet drivers at the entrance, telling them if the car park is full, and reminding them to take their litter away.
“Over the last bank holiday in May, there were more than 600 cars stopped as they entered and although the site was busy there were no blockages.
“The marshals are passing on key messages such as don’t park anywhere that isn’t a parking bay, don’t take barbecues into the site, take litter home, and keep dogs on a lead.
“There have also been massive reductions in litter as there used to be 16-20 bin bags of litter left lying around the boathouse but we’ve managed to get that down to just a few.”
However, PC Cullen added that to continue the good work of the marshals, funding support is needed for long-term.
He said: “Funding has been a key issue for us. We’ve got some now to cover the short-term but we need help for the future.”
Some councillors suggested that should come from Oldham Council, with Cllr John Hudson saying: “Oldham uses Dovestone as a selling point to bring people in to the area so if they have helped to create the problem, they should help to pay for it.”
Cllr Graham Sheldon added: “The introduction of the marshals has controlled a lot of the problems. I’ve had a lot of good comments, including residents who are pleased they can get to their own properties now.
“But long-term Oldham needs to help. They promote Dovestone as the pride of the borough so they need to help pay for it.”