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Families warned over park battle; CASTLE BROMWICH: Courts trespass threat as site earmarked for closure.

Byline: By James Cartledge

FAMILIES fighting to save a closure-threatened Solihull park could be hauled before the courts for trespass if they set foot on the land.

Plans to close Hob Farm at Castle Bromwich sparked a furious response from residents in yesterday's Birmingham Mail, angry over an alleged lack of consultation from the area's parish council, which runs the park.

But other families whose homes back onto the land welcomed the closure proposals and said their lives had been blighted by foulmouthed youths and vandals.

Now Castle Bromwich Parish Council is set to install signs at the park making it clear the area is privately owned and anyone venturing onto the land is trespassing.

Around 100 protesters are said to have signed a petition demanding the park be saved. But a notice sent to residents by council chairman John Gibbins said it had suffered a "longstanding history of misuse".

"Some visitors to Hob Farm show little concern for any nuisance or discomfort they may give to anyone else and the parish council feels the situation can no longer be tolerated," he said.

The authority wants to re-install gates leading to the park from adjoining Selworthy Road to keep out yobs. But all access will be stopped until further notice while members decide on the area's long-term future.

The council has denied rumours the land has been earmarked for development and one resident of Windleaves Road, which backs onto the park, welcomed its closure.

"We have had nothing but problems for the past 11 years," said the woman, who did not want to be named for fear of reprisals.

"All we hear is a load of swearing. Most of those wanting to keep the park open don't live where we live. If they did, they would think differently."

But retired engineering boss John Smirthwaite, aged 77, of Wyckham Road, Castle Bromwich, said he would consider legal action to keep Hob Farm open.

He said: "How can the council do this without consulting us? All the residents use it."

CAPTION(S):

PROTEST... Maria Dixon and fellow Hob Farm Recreation Ground users in Castle Bromwich. Picture: Iain Findlay
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Jul 20, 2006
Words:356
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