A GREENFIELD resident fears thousands of visitors to Dovestone Reservoir are putting the village at increased risk of coronavirus.
Catherine Knowles has called on leading politicians to undertake a Covid-19 risk assessment for the Saddleworth beauty spot and the impact of mass visitors on the community.
The area continues to be a magnet for people looking to exercise and enjoy the fresh air even since the country was placed into tighter lockdown on January 4.
As part of the restrictions people are allowed to exercise with their household (or support bubble) or one other person.
This should be limited to once per day and people should not travel outside their local area.
“Sean Fielding (Oldham Council leader), Andy Burnham (Greater Manchester Mayor) and Debbie Abrahams (Oldham East and Saddleworth MP) need to get a grip of this,” Cath told the Independent.
“The council, with partners, needs to urgently complete a Covid Risk assessment of the area and the potential impact this has on the local community.
“I have challenged Debbie Abrahams to bring this issue up in Parliament about being more precise around the definition of exercising and accessing public space. It is too ambiguous.
“I am not bothered if the council, MP and associated partners see me as a ‘thorn in their side’.
Someone needs to start exposing this.
“We have a mixed community of old and young people. Our elderly people are vulnerable and now we have this horrible new variant of Covid.
“Like everyone else, the council, United Utilities, MP, GMP and Parish Council should have in place a clear action plan, based on the risk assessment with clear timelines, because while these high numbers continue, so is the risk of spreading this horrible virus.”
Cath, who has also raised the issue with United Utilities, has lived in Saddleworth for 36 years.
Like many other local businesses in the community had to do, Cath supported Greenfield Cricket Club in completing and updating their own Covid Risk Assessment at the start of the pandemic in March 2020. The local authority and police travelled around and checked last summer that such assessments were in place.
“I have not seen that happen up at Dovestone and around the community of Greenfield,” Cath added.
“People walking round Dovestone and Greenfield are not socially distancing.
“Visitors simply do not care. They are accessing local shops, walking around in large groups and not following guidance, they are picnicking, abusing the landscape with their rubbish.
“We have witnessed marshals allowing cars to turn left coming from Holmfirth when this is not allowed not withstanding this is clearly crossing a border… against the spirit of exercise locally and walk from your home.
“I have never begrudged and have no problem with people coming to Dovestone and enjoying it, providing they respect it. But not at this moment in time, we are in a pandemic and in a third national lockdown.”
More than 1,400 fixed penalty notices have been issued by Oldham Council since June 7, 2020 for illegal parking at Dovestone, on Holmfirth Road (A635) and in side streets around Greenfield.
On further enquiry, Cath added, she understands this money goes into a central pot for ‘projects’.
However, there is no evidence any of this money via a ‘project’, comes back into the community to help with these issues or is given to the police.
“If we are generating money from those tickets, let’s give some of it back to the community so the police can do something about it,” she said.
“You see some ridiculous parking on pavements on Chew Valley Road and Manchester Road. Sometimes, you can barely get through and local people are fed up of it.
“We should limit parking to 20 minutes and have no return within four hours.
“This all needs to have leadership from the top around a full Covid risk assessment.”