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A Burntwood councillor has demanded urgent action over long-standing issues with parking and access at Chasewater.
It comes after firefighters were called to two blazes at the country park in 24 hours – but found access roads blocked on both occasions.
Cllr Sue Woodward, county councillor Burntwood North and leader of Burntwood Town Council said the recent problems had come as no surprise.
She revealed how she contacted senior officers at Staffordshire County Council on 10th Marking warning that Chasewater had been “a hot spot” for people heading out as lockdown restrictions were eased.
“The lack of proactive management of the site has simply been appalling.
“I have warned and warned that problems have been escalating but have seen no additional active management, just platitudes.
“Thankfully, the fires this week have not been serious and no injuries have been caused but I fear that, unless the county council takes some urgent steps now, there will be.”Cllr Sue Woodward
Chasewater Country Park has seen a rise in visitors as people have headed out in the warm weather.
“I have been pressing for a plan but nothing has happened”
But she said issues with access to the site pre-dated the COVID-19 outbreak.
“While it’s great that more and more people are enjoying the benefits of our beautiful Chasewater, it’s simply not good enough to say its all down to personal responsibility.
“We have been trying to get the Church Street car park on the Burntwood side of Chasewater reopened for well over three years now, but nothing has happened.
“I have been trying to get a barrier installed to protect access to the sailing club and outdoor education centre since early 2019 but nothing has happened.
“Now, since lockdown, I have been pressing for a plan but nothing has happened.
“It needs to – and quickly.”Cllr Sue Woodward
Cllr Mark Winnington, Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member responsible for Chasewater, admitted managing the numbers visiting the site was a challenge.
But he added that powers to deal with problem parking lay elsewhere.
“The easing of lockdown combined with the fine weather and the fact that many other public places are still closed means we think that our country parks are currently seeing the highest visitor numbers for 20 years.
“Arrangements are in place to deal with this increased demand, but there’s no doubt it’s challenging and visitors to Chasewater and our other country parks do have to take responsibility for their actions – for maintaining social distancing, for not lighting fires or barbecues, and for parking legally so that the emergency services can access sites if they need to.
“Penalising illegal parking here is not in the council’s powers.
“We are in conversation with the police about this issue and we are already in discussions with local stakeholders and community representatives about this matter, including the possible use of the Church Street car park.”Cllr Mark Winnington, Staffordshire County Council