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If you go down to the woods today...

...you'll still be able to get in. But soon access will be denied to the path at Dam Wood, Croxteth. Some people are relieved, others are angry

Published on October 15th 2009.

If you go down to the woods today...

OVER 300 people signed a petition to keep the gateway to Dam Wood open, says Stephanie Till.

Unfortunately, as the proposers weren't particularly au-fait with bureaucracy, campaigning, or the rules of engagement at the time, “many signatures came from children and don't count”.

If anything they count more.

'To close the path will make it a no-man's land, a rubbish dump. And antisocial behaviour doesn't worry about climbing over a gate'

“Dam Wood is part of Croxteth history,” says Ms Till. “If you are from Crocky you will have played there when you were younger, you will have collected conkers in the autumn, gone on bike rides through there in the summer. Plenty of people still do.”

It all sounds idyllic. But since an estate of private homes was built, near the path that leads into it, there have been reports of crime. Said houses, on Riviera Drive, have suffered burglaries, a gun was found in undergrowth at one point during the Rhys Jones investigation, and last year a man died in Dam Wood after being assaulted.

Now, in the Year of the Environment, and after complaints from those affected, the entrance is to be closed up, effectively denying “for good”, access to the woodland, and to Croxteth Country Park, for hundreds of families and tenants on the Altcross estate.

The mother of two, who lives in nearby Sceptre Drive, insists that far from being a haven for anti social behaviour, Dam Wood is a valuable resource for a community which, she says, like the woods themselves, feel increasingly neglected.

“I say the path should be left open and they should start to maintain it, cut the bushes back, clear the rubbish and add some lighting,” she told Liverpool Confidential.

“I feel lucky that my children live somewhere in Liverpool where they know what a squirrel looks like. So many kids in this city, especially outside south Liverpool, have no green spaces at all and no opportunities to explore nature.

By Angie Sammons

“An old man, who lived around here, used to walk along the path with his strimmer, but then he died and since then there has been no one to tidy it up. Closing it off is just the easy option for this council.”

Local Liberal Democrat Cllr Phil Moffatt, the deputy environment member, is already on the record as saying the pathway is a magnet for criminality in the area. “Some of the residents now refuse to go on holiday for fear of what they might come back to.”

But Ms Till argues that a spate of burglaries last year affected numerous homes in the wider area and that the council should come up with other solutions, such as offering Riviera Drive homeowners high fences at the back of their properties, and police advice on security.

“I feel for them. I can see how that awful hurt of your home being violated can turn into anger,” she says. “But to close the path will make it a no-man's land, a rubbish dump. And anti-social behaviour doesn't worry about climbing over a gate.”

This Wednesday, at 9.30am, campaigners opposing the gating off of Dam Wood will be putting their case to councillors at the Town Hall in a public meeting, and they are looking for support.

“Croxteth has become too much hassle for the council,” Ms Till added. “Instead of working with Croxteth Community School they closed it. The easy option. Now instead of spending some money and looking after the path, they want to close it too.

“When will we in Croxteth stop getting the bum deal all the time?” she said.

“We could have something there that we all could use. It could become an oasis, a gem in the middle of Croxteth.”

UPDATE: Stephanie Till's campaign lost its bid to keep the entrance to Dam Wood open.

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20 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

GoldilocksOctober 12th 2009.

The update at the end of this article saying the appeal was lost and the woods will now be gated off to the public.

DigOctober 12th 2009.

Can't they put a gate up but only have it open during daylight hours? That should minimise littering and antisocial behaviour. I'm sure 99% of people who would go there in the day are there to enjoy nature and 99% of people who go there in the dark would be up to no good. A 6pm to 6am gate would work a treat.

Call of the wildOctober 12th 2009.

Come on Rexy, let's be having you.

P.C. 49October 12th 2009.

Let's be having you, Mr. Dig. This way to the station...

Liverpool wagOctober 12th 2009.

I once mugged a mug tree

The Voice of ReasonOctober 12th 2009.

This is typical of today’s society. A tiny minority of chumps make a nuisance of themselves so the authorities punish everyone by removing amenities from the law-abiding. As Dig says, antisocial yobs will simply climb over a gate that would deter the law-abiding.Why not just crack down on the scum and their parents and stop making excuses for them for a change?

queeny eyeOctober 12th 2009.

Sorry to bring politics into the Rhys case, btw, but Croxteth needs all the positive help it can get.

DigOctober 12th 2009.

If no member of public is in there at night at least there will be no innocent people being violated or attacked. What crime could they commit in the woods on their own? Sell drugs to squirrels? Flash at owls? Mug an old tree?

LiverpoolPrincessOctober 12th 2009.

Dig, that is something that we enquired about but apparently isnt possible due to the man power of someone coming to lock and un-lock the gate!!! thank you for your comments and support the public meeting is tomorrow the 14th oct at 9.30am at the town hall all welcome to show your support. we also have a facebook group if you would care to join at www.facebook.com/…/group.php… you

queeny eyeOctober 12th 2009.

This is typical. In the so called environment year Liverpool councillors shut off access to a popular slice of nature because they can't be arsed thinking INSIDE the box (it's environment year remember). I feel sorry for anyone who has had their house robbed but you can't just go around closing off whole valuable amenities because you haven't got the imagination to do something positive. There should be a middle ground, literally. I don't blame the people of Crocky feeling disenfranchised either. They are left to fend for themselves in the eyes of the world's media during the whole tragic Rhys Jones case, and take all the slurs. Where are Liverpool City Council at this time. Offering support? No. Quaffing champagne and going on about how Liverpool is lucky to have a mechanical spider visit for the weekend, like they have never been further than Blackpool. Yes.

DigOctober 12th 2009.

Eh? That intended for me? What's a shame?

DigOctober 12th 2009.

Where I live there is a park a short walk away and an entry between two houses joining two roads that get locked between 7 & 7. It has worked fantastic. The park is silent of an evening now whereas at weekends it used to be a teenagers party until the early hours or until the police turned up. A guy from Sefton Council turns up to do the opening and closing. How difficult can the logistics be? Where did I say they would climb over the gate? A well vandal greased crossbar and spikes would stop hoodies climbing over and ruining their North Face sailing jackets and trackie bottoms. Simple. Lack of man power. Nonsense!

London RoadOctober 12th 2009.

Shame you can't find a lawyer to to take it on. Piece of piss against these limited ba****ds for a good brief.

The Voice of ReasonOctober 12th 2009.

Gates and fences are unlikely to stop the criminal scum climbing over into this former public space so they will still have unrestricted access. Also their criminal activities will go unwitnessed as no member of the public is allowed in there! The only people who are being punished are the law-abiding and socially responsible who are now locked out.

AnonymousOctober 12th 2009.

As the police can no longer administer a clip to ear of errant urchins and parents defend their criminal offspring, perhaps the solution is to handcuff criminal yobs to their parents for a week (assuming they can both be tracked down).It might instil a sense of civic responsibility in the feckless parents

PoloOctober 12th 2009.

Dam Wood belongs to the people, not who ever is in power at the time.I think that maybe the housing developers have seen more prime land to build on and this would be the real reason behind the closure of the path.In a year or so, the council will say, no-one uses this path and so we are selling it to the housing developers. Yet more land will be sold and the North/ East will have even less green space to enjoy.I notice no-one is proposing to close any of the green spaces in the South of the city?There is a public meeting taking place at the Town Hall, I think, at 9.30 am tomorrow Wednesday 14th October. If any one can attend to show support to Steph, we would be very grateful.

DigOctober 12th 2009.

I once flashed at a bird.

LiverpoolPrincessOctober 12th 2009.

Goldi, unfourtunatly we have been advised that a judicial review would be the next stage and we just could never in a million years afford that, we're just normal people who were fighting for our community. The next stage for us is making sure that we at least get the 'alternative route' that they have promised us and fight for that to be actioned as quickly as possible. It was a very emotional day for all involved and the end of an era for many of us. The worst part was telling my 4 year old little girl that we wouldnt be able to walk through the woods anymore to horse riding, and that we could walk the other way as its too far for her little legs, when she asked me 'why are they closing the path mummy, why wont they let us in the woods?' and not being able to explain that to her, as she wouldnt understand that they system is corrupt and i wouldnt like her to find that out yet!!In responce to 'the voice of reason' we argued exactly the same and the head of alley gating actually stood up and said the same but they went against his and the highways officers advice and closed it anyways!We had lost before we'de even entered the room, thats the sad fact about it! thank you for all your comments in support of us, we shall fight on for our access to the woods, where ever we can get it from.Thank you all again and thank you to angie for a great article. xxxxxx

GoldilocksOctober 12th 2009.

I just saw your update. What a shame. So that's that is it?

P.C. 49October 12th 2009.

Not a chance! Today's police force (sorry, "service") has no interest in enforcing the law - it considers anti-social behaviour should be dealt with by local authorities! What are we paying the police their fat salaries for, exactly?

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