Ilkley residents tell consultation about policing the River Wharfe beaches that they feel 'unsafe' there during busy periods

A order to tackle problem behaviour at Ilkley’s Riverside area in warm weather is likely to be approved after gaining support from residents.

Ilkley on a busy day

A Public Space Protection Order was proposed earlier this year in response to the huge crowds of partying youths that have descended on the town in recent summers.

Some residents have said that public drinking, drug taking and anti-social behaviour by those visiting the river made it a “no-go area” on sunny days.

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The proposed order would give Bradford Council wardens the power to hand out fines of up to £100 for drinking alcohol, taking drugs, including “legal highs” such as gas cannisters, and 'tombstoning' from the bridge into the river.

The order went out to public consultation earlier this year, and next Thursday members of Bradford Council’s Regulatory and Appeals Committee will make a final decision on whether to grant the order.

571 people took part in the consultation - with 82 per cent of respondents in favour of the proposals.

The consultation also found that 65 per cent of people who responded said they felt either “unsafe or very unsafe” at Riverside during hot weather periods.

And 45 per cent said alcohol and drug use in the Riverside area was “a very big problem.”

80 per cent said littering by people visiting the area was a very big problem, with a further 14 per cent saying it was a fairly big problem.

Some people were, however, unhappy with the plans. One respondent said: “Ilkley should be welcoming to all. It shouldn’t unnecessarily target young people.”

One person claimed the problems seen in 2020 were mainly down to the Covid pandemic, and that the Council should see how summer goes in 2021 before passing any order.

Another said the order “leans too heavily towards those who are ‘offended’ easily.”

Daniel Greenwood, chief superintendent for the Bradford District at West Yorkshire Police, also backed the planned order. Writing to the Council he said: “I am all too aware of the challenges warm weather brings to the community of Ilkley. Policing, like other services, sees an increase in demand associated with large numbers of visitors to the river area of Ilkley.

"Whilst the majority of these visitors are well behaved, unfortunately the area does experience an increase in anti-social behaviour at these times. The impact of this on the local community and their confidence in partners to deal with anti social behaviour is significant, as evidenced through the number of calls and letters which we all receive as a result.”

He said that while police have responded to issues at this site, this response has been “reactive.” The order “will enable engagement and interventions to be undertaken earlier and prevent some of the issues we experience, thereby preventing issues from escalating and making the area safer for all.”