Signs have been put up banning the public from a popular grassy spot in South Shore for a year – though they can’t be enforced and are being ignored anyway.
The notices were posted on fencing around Fisher’s Field on the corner of Highfield Road and St Annes Road, and claim ‘no access is permitted’ until next May.
But United Utilities, set to re-seed the football pitches torn up for waterwork to be carried out, has since conceded it is powerless to stop pet owners – and admitted just a fraction of the field is actually going to be renovated. Around one-and-a-half pitches out of three normally used by Foxhall Juniors will be improved, after the water firm dug them up to build an underground storage tank.
A spokeswoman yesterday said the signs will be moved to avoid any further confusion, and as dog owners continued to use the field.
One, Michael Thomas, from South Shore, said: “Until they put any gates in or block it off, I’ll keep walking my dog here. It doesn’t specifically target dog walkers, but I think that’s who they want to stop using the park.”
Lisa Murphy, from South Shore, added: “I don’t think a sign is going to deter anyone from using the park where there is nothing to stop them from entering. It’s fair enough if they need to renovate the pitch, but it doesn’t appear anything is happening.”
And Alice Nightingale said: “There isn’t anywhere else to walk your dog around here. You can’t exactly go on the beach, can you?”
Stephen Topping, from Marton Moss, added: “More people walk their dogs here than they do playing football anyway.”
Work in Fisher’s Field began in early 2017 but has now finished, with the compound set to be removed in the coming weeks.
A spokesman for United Utilities said: “Then we’ll install new drainage, replace the top soil, and sow new grass seed. This is why we need to ask the public not to walk on the area while the grass establishes. We aim to hand the area back to the council next spring.”
He added: “People will be able to see the reinstatement as it progresses and we don’t have enforcement powers, but we hope people will want to play their part to help the grass recover for the enjoyment of the community.”
Foxhall FC chairman Shaun Louth, 37, who has coached for 12 years and played for the club as a boy, said teams have been playing at Mereside and Common Edge for two seasons, and agreed a move for three years – and said fences are due to be erected around the pitches.
The under-16s’ manager said: “I believe the signs have gone up to make people aware that it will be closing soon, rather than chasing them off the field.” The club is also to get a new clubhouse.