FRUSTRATED residents living in the shadow of a controversial beauty spot fear sightseers could put them at risk over the Easter break.

Motorists blocked access to homes at Dovestone in Greenfield on Tuesday, causing anger among locals who are calling for extra funding to pay for security marshals to supervise traffic at peak weekday times.

The marshals are only on duty at weekends but United Utilities have stepped up patrols for Easter weekend when a four-strong team will be supervising from today until Easter Monday evening.

Sunshine brought scores of cars to the site on Tuesday with indiscriminate parking leading to complaints.

Local green campaigner Brian Banawich said: “United Utilities seems to be working on the assumption Dovestone is only busy at weekends.

“The car park is insufficient for the huge increase in numbers we’ve seen in recent years and the site is now extremely busy all week. We’ve seen illegal and potentially hazardous parking in large numbers all over the site.

“An emergency vehicle would find it extremely difficult to navigate a narrow lane to reach the many homes at Hey Top, or to get through the car park to help an injured visitor.

“I’m sure it’s not a pleasant experience for visitors to be stuck in the car park for ages waiting to get in or out either.

“Extending the warden scheme to cover peak times all week would ensure a more pleasant experience for local residents and visitors.”

“United Utilities made more than £700million in profits last year and it’s not too much to ask that they consider giving a little back to the community. I appreciate they have helped out at the weekends but more needs to be done.”

A United Utilities spokesperson told The Oldham Times: “We sympathise with problems people near Dovestone are having and we have been working hard with residents, the RSPB and Oldham Council since November on a sustainable management plan to try to ease the pressure of visitors.

“This includes signage and employing marshals to encourage visitors to behave responsibly.

“Our marshals are present during weekends and can only advise.

“Parking on double yellow lines is against the law and is a matter for the enforcing authorities, which are the police and the Council, and incidents should be reported to them. Over Easter, our presence on site does extend beyond the bank holiday weekend.”

“As well as four marshals working the weekend , electronic advice signs will remain in place until April 12 , with rolling messages about parking, wildfires and social distancing during the week days and all evenings.

“This will take us beyond the immediate change in lockdown restrictions and Easter period/holidays.

“We are running a targeted social media campaign over the Easter period, including a new wildfire campaign video which we hope to launch around Easter alongside the usual reservoir safety campaign.

“Although we don’t promote the site to visitors, it has become increasingly popular and this weekend will be the first where the enhanced measures we agreed in November are in place.

They added the situation would be reviewed. as part of its longer-term “ongoing strategic collaboration with stakeholders”.

Locals took to social media with one complaining of verbal abuse, dangerous behaviour, blocking emergency vehicle access adding: “It looks like we’re on our own.”

Oldham Council added traffic wardens patrol across the borough, including up Dovestone which is a priority area, adding: “As ever we would remind people to park responsibly and respect the local area and residents.”