Worcestershire County Council, St Leonard's Church, and Bartley Crescent.
We are delighted to announced that more works around the reservoir area have been agreed to improve accessibility. These have been agreed with Severn Trent, Worcestershire County Council, and St Leonard's Church.
Just a recap on the works that have already been undertaken by Severn Trent:
St Leonard's Church's wall, gate, and lamppost have been fixed/replaced.
The green fencing in the corner of the field by Ley Hill Village Green has been taken down and replaced with disability accessible kissing gates x 2.
Fencing and a kissing gate has been erected along the junction of Scotland lane/Frankley Lane so people know they are permitted to enter.
A new entrance with disability accessible kissing gate, and permissive pathway, has been installed at Merritts Hill/the top of Frankley Lane.
Not related to the reservoir but part of our complaint was sewerage spilling out into the brook at Senneleys Park - the River Rangers have narrowed this down to a small group of houses and are currently engaging with each home about this.
On February 24th chair Kevin Stych met with Severn Trents' Principle Property Manager onsite to discuss a second round of works. We are delighted to announce Severn Trent have agreed to the following:
To fix another wall at St Leonard's church, damaged by one of their contractors.
To lay a new gravel pathway around the entire redirected Public Right of Way (PROW) next to Frankley Reservoir where the bund has been created; this because the new pathway is in poor quality compared to the previous one.
They have agreed that we can remove the recently installed wooden kissing gate leaving a gap in the fence (this because people on tramper vehicles from the Disabled Ramblers could not get through).
They agreed that we can erect signs to direct people onto their land - even where there is not a formally acknowledged PROW.
To replace two kissing gates on Waterworks Drive and Bartley Crescent with larger disability accessible kissing gates,
Senior Pathway Officer, Patrick White, from Worcestershire County Council's (WCC) PROW Team also attended on February 24th, and WCC have agreed to:
Replace the stile behind the church with a disability accessible kissing gate, which will require significant grounds work to make it stable.
Finally, we have also spoken with Vicar Jane at St Leonard's Church about:
Replacing their small kissing gate at the back of the church with a disability accessible gate of some sort, so more people can access..
Jane is keen to make the church more accessible for others, particularly from the reservoir, and is keen for this to be undertaken. It is currently going through their diocese processes to gain approval.
We were also excited for Severn Trent to confirm they are supportive of the our future project to protect the pathway on the south of the reservoir, from ploughing with a wooden fence. We are applying for this pathway to become a PROW and once this has been secured we will pursue this.
All in all, great strides being made on making the reservoir more accessible and connected! As usual it won't happen quickly, or all at once, but work should be complete in the next 6 months.
Speaking about improved accessibility; we wanted to share and celebrate with you the reopening of a PROW entrance on Bartley Crescent that we have campaigned for. This is for the PROW from there to Frankley Lane, that was walled off when Bellway Homes knocked down the Ley Hill flats and rebuilt the new housing estate there - so around 15 years ago.
You may remember that Bartley Crescent is a little out of our area of interest, however we take a wider view when it comes to pathways that facilitate people's access to the reservoir. Member Heather Painter, brought it to our attention that there was a hidden stile under overgrown hedgerows, that was inaccessible due to the growth and wall in front of it. She found it was a PROW and that it was illegal for entrances to be obstructed. Heather then spoke with Birmingham City Council's PROW team in 2015 with no success. We attempted the same with no success either.
With advice from the Ramblers Association, on the 23/01/2022 FOBR started a formal legal process- an exchange of specific forms and letters that required the council to state how they would fix the issue and act within timeframes. They advised that within 6 months Bellway Homes would complete the work and if they didn't, the council would complete the work and send them the bill. If no progress was made, then FOBR would issue the final exchange of forms and letter within the 6 month period, advising of our intention to take the matter to court. In the 5th month activity picked up and things were looking promising, but as soon as the 6th month deadline passed and we had no recourse to take the matter further, all work and communications ceased!
Not to be deterred, on the 08/08/2022 we restarted the process advising we would take BCC to court within 2 months of their response as their word could no longer be believed. The response was vague and insufficient for a legal procedure and so we made a formal complaint to the council of the missed deadline, the insufficient response, and our plan to take them to court within 3 months. The response was swift! They admitted fault, and set clear timeframes for the work to be completed in 3 months, with work starting in December 2022 and finishing in January 2023. We now finally have the fantastic stepped entrance as shown in the above picture. Unfortunately not disability accessible, but there are now other disability accessible options on either end of the same road, thanks to work we have pursued with Severn Trent.
A difficult process but success in the end!