THE Friends of Duchess Wood have hit out at the "lack of evidence" supporting the closure of the popular Helensburgh recreation area on safety grounds.

In a new report the Friends say no work has been carried out to make the wood safe – more than two months after it was closed.

Argyll and Bute Council, which leads the management of the wood, a designated local nature reserve, announced on June 18 that the public would no longer be permitted to enter the wood because of safety concerns.

But the Friends say that they have still not been shown any evidence backing up the closure decision – and that no repair work has taken place since public access was closed off.

READ MORE: Helensburgh woodland closed by council over safety concerns

The report has been prepared for a meeting of the wood's management committee, taking place in Helensburgh on Tuesday, August 20, at which the closure of the wood is expected to be discussed in detail.

In the Friends' document, the group's secretary, Martin Grafton, said: “The fact that Argyll and Bute Council has taken upon itself to close the wood without consulting the committee ignores the council’s own procedures, and is remarkably insensitive to the reality of the management of the wood, as is the lack of communication which would have helped us keep members informed.

“As a minimum it is considered that the report should have been made available to the committee so that a discussion could have been had as to the best way forward to address any issues identified.

“Despite the council putting up notices, most of which have been removed, the wood continues to be visited by members of the public.

"This calls into question the ability of the council to protect individuals from perceived dangers.

READ MORE: Friends in angry blast at council over Duchess Wood's closure

“It is of particular note that after eight weeks’ closure, work has still not started to make the wood safe.

"FODW has, to date, not seen any evidence to support the radical step of closing the wood.”

An Argyll and Bute Council spokesperson previously said in relation to the closure: “We informed the public on June 18 that Duchess Wood would be closed until further notice following a survey of the woodland.

“The council has overall responsibility for Duchess Wood and acted swiftly in the interests of public safety.

“We appreciate the importance of Duchess Wood to the local area, and will provide updates on work to be carried out.”

READ MORE: Duchess Wood closure: full access 'could take some time' to restore

Mr Grafton also said in the Friends' new report: “As a result of the closure of the wood there have been no work parties or work carried out for the past two months.

“Further work is needed around the wood, and the recent heavy rain has resulted in a lot of the ditches and gullies filling with sediment.”

The report also said that the wood was subject to further damage to fences, marker posts and information boards after events in early April.

However, Mr Grafton added that Police Scotland continue to provide good support in patrolling the area.