THE hugely popular Oldham beauty spot Dovestone, plagued by an onslaught of uncaring visitors and renegade motorists, should be closed to the public.

This hard hitting recommendation comes from highly respected Dr Andrew Taylor, community champion and chair of the influential Greenfield and Grasscroft Community Association.

He says the move is needed primarily to protect the area and its residents, and to avoid the “widespread arrogant” flouting of Covid-19 restrictions and regulations.

Dr Taylor has already written to Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham and Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, saying Dovestone has become a no go area.

Last week, a blaze, suspected to have been started by a barbecue, severely damaged valuable moorland.

Dr Taylor said: “There are patently two problems - massive anti-social and dangerous behaviour at Dovestone and a massive local disquiet at the events out of control.

“Credit again where it is due, to the residents, the employees of the involved authorities, the volunteers, the police where duties permit and Oldham Council for the emergency procedures they enacted to put double yellow lines along the A635 Greenfield to Holmfirth road.

“This has been flat-out effort, without victory.

“Gratitude too for the rain which decimated the arriving numbers - but the sun and the unbridled behaviour will return,”

And, highlighting the effects of social media, he declared: “One of its downsides is the unlimited number of channels for multiple upsurges of momentum.

“But they give valuable evidence of the widespread deep concern and disquiet, they also allow for multiple parallel voices, divided and easier to brush aside.

“My hope for protection of our rural heritage has always been to combine the powerful and justified concerns of everyone who loves the area into one strong, coherent voice which will actually have the effect we all seek: peace, calm and safe enjoyment of our local gem of countryside.

“Sadly, the Dovestone should once again be closed to the public, primarily to protect the area and its residents, but also to avoid the widespread arrogant flouting of Covid restrictions and regulations.

“For example, a local branch of McDonald’s had to close after re-opening because of the widespread and flagrant disregard of the new public order. The Dovestone area must sadly do the same.

“The numbers have actually increased despite ‘lockdown’ and the closed toilet facilities have resulted in public excrement - an intolerable, antisocial, unhealthy situation.

“And more barbecues than ever, and of course more massive - and expensive - moorland fires.

“The area is special enough to have its own legislation - if that is what it takes - it has happened before, in the late 1950s. The 1958 Act of Parliament prepared the legal grounds for the Dovestone Reservoir to come into existence.”

He went on: “Online petitions adequately demonstrate the great extent of feeling of both local residents and supporters of the area from afar but the human force of it remains mainly trapped within the medium itself.

“Serious change of policy can only take place when those with the powers of decision are met with strong argument and are truly convinced that - despite past, present and future financial constraints - the costs of inaction will far outweigh the costs of fire-fighting, both literal and metaphorical. A stitch in time truly does save nine.”

And he added: “If the squeakiest wheel is the one that gets the grease ... this wheel has to squeak with one loud voice.”