By John Baron
Two West Leeds councillors are calling for robust action to combat problems of anti-social off-road bikes in the area.
According to Tory Councillors Amanda Carter and Trish Smith, areas in Calverley and Pudsey have been damaged by anti-social bikers on farmland and playing fields, to the extent they are not fit for animals to graze there and causing noise nuisance and threatening behaviour towards residents.
Damage has also been reported to barriers and fences designed to keep motorised vehicles away from green spaces and off of public rights of way, including the expensive anti-quad bike barrier at the foot of Ravenscliffe Road.
They are calling for Park Rangers on off-road bikes to are reinstated to tackle the problems.
But the ruling Labour administration has argued a Mobile Park Ranger Service would not resolve the problems as they do not have any delegated powers or the means to tackle issues associated with the anti-social use of quad bikes. Labour says operations are already in place to tackle issues.
Councillor Amanda Carter (Cons, Calverley and Farsley Ward) said: “Cllr Andrew Carter and I have spent hours of our time trying to solve this issue, however, it can’t be sorted out unless all the agencies agree to work together and put a stop to this sort of anti-social behaviour.
“It simply is not acceptable for property to be damaged and local people’s quality of life affected, not to mention reports of threats from some quad bikers and off road bikers.
“The council used to have Park Rangers on off-road bikes, who assisted the police. This really worked and it’s time the administration stopped spending money on pet projects and put some funding into sorting this problem out.”
Councillor Trish Smith (Pudsey Ward) said: “We need a multi-agency approach to enable us to solve this issue which blights communities right across the city.
“The devastation to areas such as the beautiful Fulneck Valley, golf course and farmland is awful to see, with some places totally destroyed which will take years to regenerate. This is costing landowners, businesses and council-tax payers money they can’t afford, not to mention alleged threats received to our residents when they challenge those creating this problem.
“We cannot allow our residents to continually suffer this harm, it’s time to take robust action and deal with the issue.”
The councillors are meeting with a number of council departments and partner agencies, including the police, to determine how best to tackle anti-social off-road biking and what practical measures can be implemented.
But Cllr Debra Coupar (Lab), Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Resources, said: “We are committed to tackling anti-social behaviour in our communities and we understand the impact this type of activity can have on local residents.
“Unfortunately, in our experience, reintroducing a Mobile Park Ranger Service would not resolve this matter, as they do not have any delegated powers or the means to tackle issues associated with the anti-social use of quad bikes.
“Working alongside our partners, the West Yorkshire Mayor and the police, we will continue to act on any reports, ensuring those responsible are identified and the appropriate action is taken.
“There are a number of partnership interventions already in place, including ‘Operation Dieselcrest’ which focuses on the thefts of quad bikes and motor cycles, engaging with individuals known or suspected of being involved in the anti-social behaviour, and developing intelligence around where the vehicles are being stored.
“Again alongside the West Yorkshire Mayor, officers in Safer Leeds are also exploring other options available working in partnership with West Yorkshire Police and the third sector to support enforcement activity and prevention work, including enhanced youth outreach and diversionary activities; and a Leeds-wide public awareness media campaign aimed at reducing the prevalence of such anti-social behaviour and building confidence of people in the community to report issues wherever they are being experienced.”
Cllr Coupar encouraged residents to report any concerns to the council’s anti-social behaviour team on 0113 222 4402 or call West Yorkshire Police on 101.
West Yorkshire Police has also been contacted for comment.