Youths smoking weed, rammed car parks and illegal barbecues – welcome to Stoke-on-Trent’s beauty spots since lockdown was eased

Beauty spots across North Staffordshire are being ‘overrun’ with youths smoking weed, illegal barbecues and noisy music.

Families have raised concerns over a lack of social distancing and anti-social behaviour at fishing pools, parks and other open spaces since the coronavirus lockdown was eased last week.

Problem hotspots have included Westport Lake, Holden Lane Pool in Snyed Green, Park Hall Country Park, Smith’s Pool in Fenton, Wetley Moor Common and Whitfield Valley Nature Reserve, which is between Chell Heath and Ball Green.

Photos also show car parks have been rammed on sunny days since they were reopened to the public.

Mum Jeannette Mountford spotted a group of teenagers using drugs when on a run at Westport Lake in Burslem.

The blight left behind at Whitfield Valley Nature Reserve

She said: “Me and my daughter were doing our jogging around the lake and there were a bunch of kids gathered together smoking weed and it was that strong it made me feel sick.

“Each to their own but that stench was seriously strong. It’s not ideal for young kids to be passing by.

“There should be security about at all times making sure people aren’t flouting the rules and law.

“This country is too messed up at the moment to worry about people’s safety but apparently our government trust everyone’s commonsense.”

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Another parent tried to visit Park Hall with her four children before turning back.

Stacey Stanier said: “We thought we would take the kids out to get some fresh air. We were there literally 15 minutes and brought them home.

“It was disgusting, there were people drinking, hanging out with friends and having a barbecue.

“We can’t see our family and friends because some stupid people can’t abide by the rules.”

Meanwhile Peter Bridgwood spotted a large group of teenagers playing loud music on Wetley Moor Common.

Westport Lake Car Park

And Gladyis Harvey said: “On Rough Close pool there were also people  drinking and smoking cannabis.”

Ashley Laming also called for more security at beauty spots, particularly Holden Lane Pool where groups of youngsters have been spotted camping out.

She said: “I’ve been wanting to take my son down to see the ducks for a while now but I won’t be going unless it’s with my partner.”

And Andrew Davies said it wasn’t just teenagers who were flouting the two-metre rule.

He said: “When I went for a walk at Holden Lane Pool it was mostly older mostly males fishing and drinking. They were spread across the paths and wouldn’t move even though I had a small child.”

Alsager Police have also increased patrols Cranberry Moss and Nursery Road due to youths gathering to smoke weed.

A spokesman said: “We also patrolled Cranberry Moss and Nursery Road after being informed people were gathering in these locations to smoke cannabis. If you see anything that we need to be aware of please contact us via 101 or 999 in an emergency.”

Gill Heath, Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for communities, said: “Our country parks are beautiful places and we want people to enjoy them now that people are able to travel for exercise.

“But it’s everyone responsibility to use common sense and observe the rules and spirit of social distancing and stay at least two metres apart in potentially busy places such as car parks so that we don’t risk another spike in Coronavirus cases.

“The sites can become very busy and we would ask people to find another place if a car park is crowded and not to park on road verges, or block access that may be needed in an emergency.

“If we cannot ensure people’s safety we may have to consider whether it is safe for car parks to remain open.”

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