AFTER closing following complaints of illicit sexual behaviour, drug dealing and dog attacks, a Halesowen beauty spot is due to reopen on Thursday (November 16).

Uffmoor Woods was closed six months ago by the Woodland Trust after complaints, and since then the trust has assessed the site and identified what work needs to be done to make the area safe for visitors.

Maintenance work has been carried out on fences, gateways and paths, and fly tipping has been cleared away.

The site has also been made more open and visible through woodland thinning, with new and clearer signage promoting rules for dog walkers, and explaining the car park’s opening and closing times, in the hope of deterring any illegal activity.

Gareth Hopkins, operations manager for the Woodland Trust, said: “We’re very pleased to be reopening Uffmoor Wood. After nearly six months of hard work, we now have a clear steer on how to make the woods safer for families and the local community.”

Trust staff will be on the site until Saturday – from 10am to 4pm – to welcome visitors and answer their questions. The site will also be attended regularly by a small team of volunteers who will report any issues or damage to the wood.

Emma Bailey, of the Friends of Uffmoor Woods group, has applied to be one of the volunteers, although she believes the trust’s claims behind the closure were “fabricated”.

“We hadn’t heard anything about the woods being reopened until contacted by the Halesowen News,” she said. “The Woodland Trust finally put a notice on the friends’ Facebook page on Tuesday.

“Obviously we are delighted that the woods are being reopened, but we now hope the trust will work closer with our small group to make sure there are no incidents like the ones they claim to have happened.

“We still believe the claims to have been fabricated, but we need to move forward and have a visible presence to make sure the woods return to the beauty spot that they are.”

A freedom of information (FOI) request submitted to West Mercia Police found only seven logs which make reference to incidents in Uffmoor Lane and Uffmoor Woods, with resources only sent out to two incidents.

Regular woods user and dog walker Peter Thompson, who made the FOI request, said he is concerned that there may be “other reasons” which lead to the closure and the dog issues are being “used as a smoke screen” by the Woodland Trust.

Emma added: “I don’t believe there are any more incidents of illegal activity here than in any other wooded area in the country.

“We were told there were two wardens at the woods but you never saw them, so we hope the trust will have a much more visible presence here for the foreseeable future – not just until the weekend.”

The trust is set to put on a wider programme of events and activity to encourage more people to visit the area, with dates to be announced in 2018.