THE leader of Dudley Council has ordered an urgent closure of a Quarry Bank park following reports of gatherings of “mindless” groups of people.

Stevens Park will be closed for 48 hours from today (Wednesday) and the closure will be reviewed after that.

Dudley Council bosses say they have taken the decision to lock the park gates after receiving several reports about groups of people gathering at the site flouting social distancing rules during the warm weather.

Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of the council, said: "The people who flout these rules are mindless and put everyone at risk. I said before that if people ignored the rules we would have no other option but to close the parks – which impacts people’s lives further.

"We simply cannot have people gathering in large groups – it puts themselves at risk and others and will also impact on our NHS who are working flat out to tackle this terrible virus.

"Thankfully the vast majority of people are doing their bit to help and staying indoors but I am sick and tired of others who seemingly go out of their way to help spread this virus.

"This closure of one of our parks is not taken lightly. People need to stay at home, save lives and protect the NHS. If they don’t other parks will follow.”

Himley Hall and Park recently closed following similar issues and the leader warned at the time that more parks would follow if people continued to flout social distancing rules to keep two metres apart.

Other parks remain open as normal but government advice says people should only head outdoors if it is essential such as to take one form of daily exercise, but people must continue to social distance themselves at all times and remain at least two metres apart from others.