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Calls to tackle nuisance motorbikers in Bramley Park

By John Baron

Youngsters’ safety is being put at risk by ‘irresponsible and dangerous’ motorbike riders making residents’ lives a misery in Bramley Park, a public meeting heard.

Concerns over a spate of recent incidents in Bramley Park were raised at last night’s Bramley & Stanningley Forum meeting, with one attendee saying she recently had to hide behind a tree in the park because she feared being run over.

The forum heard young motorcycle riders wearing balaclavas were causing significant anti-social behaviour.

“They’ve been up on the rugby field but most recently I’ve seen them down by the playground and the war memorial, where older people have been struggling to get out of the way,” said one person.

“People are at risk. I had to hide behind a tree as they were coming straight towards me, but people with a pram or who have young kids might not be able to do this.

“They’ve got no safety helmets on and not only are they going to hit someone some day and cause serious injuries, they’re also going to end up hurting themselves. This problem is only going to increase over the six-week summer holidays when young children are around.”

Another added: “It’s dangerous. I’ve seen some adults riding with their kids on the front. They’s idiots. What kind of example are they setting? It’s irresponsible and dangerous.”

There were also calls for more police presence and for more barriers from forum attendees, but the meeting heard the solutions weren’t simple.

PC Birkby, from West Yorkshire Police, said: “These balaclava-wearing youngsters are annoying, and they’re riding without a helmet and often without a registration plate. The issue is all around safety. We are not allowed to chase after them, it is all to do with their safety and concerns about them losing control.

“Realistically the only way we can target them is if members of the public can tell us where these bikes are kept or where they are getting them from – anonymously if they’d like. We can apply for a warrant and potentially go into people’s homes and seize them. I know it sounds rubbish, but that’s the best way.”

People should contact police on 101 with any information.

Councillor Kevin Ritchie (Lab, Bramley & Stanningley) said installing gates would cost £2,000-£2,500 each and that funding would need to be found from somewhere. He added: “We have got to balance access for all. If we have gates on every entrance that wouldn’t work for people in wheelchairs or with prams.”

Forum chair Cllr Caroline Gruen (Lab, Bramley & Stanningley) said a scheme to reduce similar problems in Stanningley Park had cost around £40,000. She encouraged people to report any problems they might see via 101, but if there is any immediate danger to life, people should contact 999.

Cllr Tom Hinchcliffe (Lab, Bramley & Stanningley) said the council ‘had one hand tied behind its back’ due to what he claimed was a lack of funding from Government and the under-funding of the police. “We are doing as much as we can. It’s not an excuse, it’s the position we are in.”

Councillors said if there were lots of reports to police, it can become more of a priority in the area.

The meeting also agreed to write to Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves over concerns over government policy surrounding motorbikes and e-bikes.

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