Words: Michelle Corns
A Lower Wortley neighbourhood has organised a task force to tackle anti-social behaviour by youths on off-road motorbikes.
Just off Tong Road, close to local amenities such as a bus route and corner shops, Gilpin Terrace would appear to be an ideal location for families.
Estimated to have been built in the 1930s the spacious red-brick through terraced houses have art-deco fronts and gabled porches which set them aside from the ubiquitous rows of terraced houses that make up much of the area nearby.
Only a few hundred feet away is a large, grassy area, popular with ramblers and dog walkers.
The Leeds-Bradford railway line is partially hidden from view with a verdant canopy of foliage. It stretches from the bottom of Oldfield Lane to Amberley Road and runs alongside the Leeds-Bradford railway line.
This is also a regular haunt for off-road bikers. The trouble is, however, that they use Gilpin Terrace and other streets in the estate as an access route, shattering the tranquillity and causing havoc.
According to resident Maria Lee, 48, the bikers are noisy, ride recklessly with no helmets and are even taking children on their bikes.
The entire community has now come together to form a ‘task force’ to share information and record every incident to the police online – after being advised to do so by West Yorkshire Police. Maria said:
“It’s a lovely spot and right on my doorstep, but these youths are ruining it for everyone.
“Before lockdown, we didn’t really speak to each other. For such a long time, people have been solitary, then suddenly, everyone interacted more. The loss of people, social isolation and being stuck indoors has made people more friendly, You find out what is going on in the community and it feels like old times.”
The off-road bikers may be a nuisance, but Maria takes solace in not being alone, in tackling the offenders. She added:
“Previously, people would have just felt helpless and made individual reports, but not really reached out to each other. We are all in regular contact and even have a WhatsApp group to discuss the biking problem.”
Another resident on Gilpin Place – which runs parallel to Gilpin Terrace, however, didn’t appear to be affected by the bikes, added: “It doesn’t bother me much cos it’s summat for them to do and keeps them off the street!”
It appears that her neighbours on Gilpin Terrace would argue against that. As well as the noise, riding without a helmet is dangerous. Injuries suffered in a crash could easily be fatal.
This is what police in Coventry – who caught multiple riders without helmets, in an undercover sting operation, had to say: “Even if they’re not seriously injured, unlike the rest of the body, the brain is not able to heal itself – so a knock to the head from the road surface, even if just leading to concussion in the first instance, can eventually cause epilepsy and irreversible brain damage.”
In addition, children who are taken as passengers are even more vulnerable.
The neighbourhood intend to present the data they are gathering to key political figures like local councillors and the MP. Maria feels that the problems are ruining an otherwise friendly community.
If you are being affected by something similar in your area, contact your local councillors, or report incidents online at the following link: Report it | West Yorkshire Police.