Agenda item

Friends of Hopwood Woods Nature Reserve

Minutes:

At the last meeting, Keeley had raised concerns that since the introduction of the new cycle path there had been an increase in the number of off-road vehicles and motorbikes using the area.  This issue had been raised with Highways following the last meeting and Lauren read out an update from Alex Whittaker: Enquiries regarding unauthorised users such as quad/motor cycles continue to be received, however I must make it clear Rochdale Borough Council are installing access restrictions at multiple places along the route as part of the scheme.

At Hopwood Road fencing and barriers were installed to restrict unauthorised access, fencing and a kissing gate has now been installed at Cooper Fold; this has severed motorbike/quad access from the Hollins estate which created an issue prior to the implementation of the improvement works.

Access restrictions are already in place at the termination of the route adjacent to St Anne’s Academy. Retractable bollards have now also been installed close to Woodside Farm and further along the route on the approach to St Anne’s Academy to restrict any vehicular access on the middle section of the route. In addition to this, drop down bollards have also been installed at the start of the byway at Hopwood Hall, and this will give Mrs and Mrs Faulkner who own Woodside Farm the opportunity to restrict vehicular access on the byway outside of planned deliveries. A cattle gate will also be installed to ensure there can be no conflict between users when cattle are being transferred from Woodside Farm to the nearby fields along the route (introduction of cattle gates is imminent).

In addition, signage will be added along all sections of the route and this will raise awareness of the multi user route and encourage users to reduce speed. The access controls along the route are a physical measure that will also act as a speed control when cyclists approach. This will be an improvement on the current provision of notifying all users to be vigilant and considerate to alternate users, it is important to consider conflict between users of Restricted Byway 117 was an issue prior to the works and there were no measures in place to reduce conflict/raise awareness.

Upon full completion of the scheme, if any unauthorised quads/motorbikes access the byway this is an enforcement issue to be dealt with by Greater Manchester Police; under section 59 of the Police Reform Act 2002 the police have the power to seize and remove a motor vehicle if the vehicle is used in a manner that constitutes an offence on or off the road that is likely to cause alarm, distress or annoyance to members of the public.

Upon full completion Highways, Environmental Management and local user groups plan to meet with a representative of Greater Manchester Police on site to discuss all elements of the scheme and raise awareness to GMP of the multi user route. In the initial period of the route re-opening for public use Rochdale Borough Council will request GMP to monitor the route as much as possible to deter any long term unauthorised access. Extensive drainage has been included as part of the scheme which is now in operation and is draining the route sufficiently; there was no drainage present prior to the improvement scheme’.

Kelley O’Mara advised that there has been illegal hunting in the woods and unfortunately a dog was recently snared.  A meeting has been arranged with GMP and Keeley will provide an update at the next meeting.  There is also signage being installed for the cycle path.