Urgent plea to clean-up Doncaster ‘dogging’ hotspot

Andrew Street, pictured in Howell Wood, is frustrated at how the wood has been allowed to get into such a state of disarray. Picture: Marie Caley
Andrew Street, pictured in Howell Wood, is frustrated at how the wood has been allowed to get into such a state of disarray. Picture: Marie Caley

Users of a rural Doncaster beauty spot claim it is being ruined by vandalism, litter and couples ‘dogging’.

Howell Wood, near Clayton, north Doncaster, has been popular for picnics and dog walkers for many years.

But now those who use the site and live nearby claim it has deteriorated and claim Doncaster Council is failing to provide enough rangers to keep it in good condition.

Complaints made by the public include a case of a gate being damaged and people being allowed to access a deep pit, which is regarded as dangerous. It has since been repaired.

There are also concerns around litter, dead fish in ponds, and couples performing indecent acts in the car park.

Andrew Street, who walks his dog in the park, said: “Down by the fishing pond there is a large amount of litter, and the bins are usually full to overflowing. It looks a disgrace and it has been like that for some time.”

“There is an 18th century ice house with a gate on. It opens up to a pit that is 6ft deep that was once used to keep things cold. The gate was smashed down.

“That was an accident waiting to happen.

“Someone who fell down there would have been seriously injured.”

One resident who lives near the woods asked not to be named. But he said he had seen antisocial behaviour and drug users’ equipment in the woods, and the car park was used by couples performing indecent acts as others look on, a practice known as ‘dogging’.

He said: “It has gone downhill in the last three years. We have contacted the council, but nothing seems to get done.”

Another resident said he was concerned that there was drug abuse going on in the woods and said he was concerned about find equipment used by drug users in the grass.

He said: “In my opinion, the area has not been managed enough.”

Bosses at Doncaster Council defended their management of the woods.

Coun Chris McGuinness, cabinet member for communities, said: “Like all of our woodlands across the borough Howell Wood is inspected on a regular basis by the council’s park rangers.

“Residents can also report any issues to Doncaster Council by calling 01302 736000 and all necessary repairs will be carried out.

“If anyone witnesses an offence taking place they should call the police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.”

Howell Wood country park dates from the 1700s.