Friday, 28 July 2017

Valley Road car park to be closed

Valley Road car park is to be closed for a 6-month trial, a decision which has been made with no consultation with birders who regularly use it. It was a nasty surprise when I found out, and very disappointing, especially as two people involved in the decision know full well I regularly use the car park and had talked to me about other things in recent months, but not about this! One of the reasons for the closure is fly-tipping, but I can't see how closing it will stop that as there will still be space there for rubbish, albeit behind a fence/barrier. I just hope other birders don't feel discouraged by this like I am...

Some email correspondence below for further info.


I was very disappointed to learn that a decision has been made to close the Valley Road car park for a 6-month trial, without any consultation with users of the car park. I and other birdwatchers regularly use this car park because it is accessible early morning when the other car parks are closed, and it provides convenient close access to the causeway, which is a favoured observation point for us. The car park is also regularly used by C&RT and their contractors, especially those who cut the grass along the dam/causeway and do the monthly safety inspections. Other visitors also use it, and although it has low vehicle capacity I disagree with the statement that it is rarely full of cars as this varies depending on time of day and whether weekday or weekend - generally it is well used at weekends and during nice weather, like the other car parks but on a smaller scale. I took the photo in this link on Thursday evening last week:

With the local population set to increase as more houses are built at Tidbury Green and Dickens Heath, more car parking may be needed in the future, not less. Closing this car park may encourage anglers who currently use it to park more along Malthouse Lane, especially at night when the other car parks are closed - poignant given the possibility of night fishing being allowed in future. It also won't remove antisocial behaviour from the Earlswood area as a whole as undesirables will simply go elsewhere to the dam, other car parks such as the Reservoir pub's, or the quieter lanes. Converting the car park to a planted area also won't necessarily stop fly-tipping there, as people could still drop rubbish on the plants from the road.

Surely if people are willing to take responsibility for closing the car park, they could take responsibility for improving and maintaining it? Perhaps removable bollards could be used there? I could help remove litter if provided with a picker and bags.

Kind regards,


Hi Matt,
thank you for contacting us directly.  I am aware that you have raised this on your Twitter account.

We have worked well together in the past so I am sorry that you are against this trial.
I am also rather disappointed that you don't seem to appreciate that we have monitored and explored all the possibilities that have been open to us.

I am sending the reply that I sent to Janet James, I believe you know Janet. 

However I will add that your suggestion of removable bollards was discussed as an option but discarded as it would not stop fly tipping.
I draw your attention to the fact that C&RT were present at the meeting which made this decision and have offered some financial help towards completing the work.

Your offer of help with litter picking is appreciated but the problem is greater I'm afraid than litter picking.  When we had the meeting in Valley Rd., including District Cllr., our MP, Sgt. Bob Shaw, Ian Lane from C&Rt, Parish Council representative and Res. Assoc. representatives, we had to stand amongst men's underwear, a pair of denim jeans, bags of assorted rubbish and the debris was noted which had accumulated at the back of the site.
Depressing sight.  Residents should not have to tolerate this as I'm sure you will agree.  This of course is the tip of the iceberg of ASB associated with this parcel of land.

You mention people taking responsibility for improving and maintaining the site.  The whole point of this trial closure is because nobody will take responsibility or spend any money on it.
We can find nobody willing to take ownership, we would much prefer it if somebody came forward.
It requires money of course to make it work as a viable car park. Dumped cars set alight, overnight sleepers, fly tipping and acknowledged drug dealing don't make it very attractive for a possible responsible organisation with funding.

Yes, it may put a few more cars elsewhere but that problem already exists and has to be dealt with.
The Causeway is on the list, along with Valley Rd., for the extra police patrols which we have successfully campaigned for over the last 2 or 3 years.
I will say that we have noticed a reduction in the last 6 weeks of fly tipping.  As for the number of cars parking there, I do regularly monitor this, I'm in and out often at different times of the day, as a resident.

There are no easy answers here Matt, we did a clean up there and took away 14 bags of assorted debris, a quantity of bedding from the back of the site, and the human waste issues associated with overnight sleepers. Asbestos panels and loads of broken glass.
There are people living right behind this land.

You mention lack of consultation but, as a Res. Assoc., we do our best to find the best outcome for the local community.  The residents of Earlswood make many compromises to accommodate the visitors to the lakes.
I did speak to users of the car park, most said that if it was such a problem then close it. 

It is impossible to please everyone of course and it is a trial and will be evaluated at the end of it.


Dear Ms. James,

The decision to trial a closure of this car park was taken at a meeting attended by our MP, the police, Canal and River Trust, our District Councillor and representation from our Parish Council.
The suggestion of a six month closure came from the police.  We, as a Res. Assoc. do not have the power to take action without the full support of those people mentioned.
It was agreed unanimously by those at the meeting.
Why do we need to take this action you may ask if you have not fully acquainted yourself with all details.
We can find no trace of an owner of the land.  This means nobody takes responsibility for maintenance or management of the land.
Streetscene, at S.D.C. have been cooperative in cleaning up the area when there has been fly tipping.  This has been a regular occurrence.
We are grateful for this as the land does not belong to S.D.C. therefore they do not have to accept any responsibility towards its maintenance.

We have people sleeping there overnight with the resulting rubbish and human excreta left behind.
We have had recently a car dumped there and then set alight.  There are two mobile homes directly behind and there was great concern for their safety.
The other issue which is ongoing is the use of this area to deal drugs.  This usually takes place in the hours of darkness although not solely.
Whilst monitoring the car park, such as it is, we have noted that it is rarely full, with a maximum of eight cars, mostly there are just one or two cars throughout the day.

I would also point out that overnight fishing is illegal at Earlswood Lakes so there should be no vehicles associated with fishing in the hours of darkness.

Whilst the residents of Earlswood understand the needs of visitors they are entitled to peace and quiet in the hours of darkness and the early hours of the morning.  This is not unreasonable.

Ms. James, you suggest that we improve the area in Valley Rd., but with no ownership, who do you suggest pays for this? Do you think that we haven't explored options?
The Res. Assoc., made up of local residents, is well placed to know all the recurring problems we have accommodating the visitors to the lakes

The residents of Malthouse Lane have to put up with far too much as it is and this area in Valley Rd. attracts anti social behaviour. 
We are trying to remove these unacceptable elements not encourage them.  If you live here I'm sure you would agree with this.

I would suggest that, in the early hours of the morning, you park in the Red Lion car park.  By walking along Wood Lane you can take the path down to the lakes therefore disturbing no-one. I would also suggest approaching Tanworth in Arden Parish Council asking if the Malthouse Lane car park hours of closing in the summer months could be reviewed and a sign for the car park be reinstated.

We do not want anybody parking anywhere in the hours of darkness, residents deserve their hours of peace to live and sleep.

This is our view and we would prefer the area to be taken over and managed but this is not an option that has been taken up by any of the interested parties.