Off-roaders 'frightening people away from beauty spots'

Off-road vehicles and trail bikes are causing so many problems in the Ceiriog Valley that many people no longer feel safe exploring the area on foot or on cycles, it has been claimed.

Some of those attending the meeting in the Ceiriog Valley
Some of those attending the meeting in the Ceiriog Valley

Police, council officials and the area's councillor and member of parliament met local residents recently to look at the problems on the small country lanes. Gates could be put in on some of the ancient, drovers' roads.

Simon Baynes MP , Ceiriog Valley county councillor Trevor Bates, police Sergeant Jenna Hughes, PCSO Gareth Jones and residents, discussed the problems, particularly those they have experienced first-hand.

The area has attracted off-road bike users from a wide area, with PCSO Jones recently speaking to a group who had come from areas such as Nottingham and the Midlands.

He said: “The Ceiriog Valley has for so long had issues with anti-social driving with trail bikes and 4x4 use in the area along the tracks, which has caused much disturbance for local residents and tourists. Since the easing of lockdown restrictions, the number of incidents reported in the area has been increasing.

"As a result, some people no longer feel safe walking, horse riding or cycling in the area. The lack of maintenance of the lanes over the years, with sheer rock and in places deep mud, has created the perfect conditions for off-road motorbikes as they use it as a scrambling track.

“We patrol the area and engage with the community as much as we can, but of course, it is impossible to be there 24 hours a day, especially given the isolated nature of where these incidents occur.

"As a result, my colleague PCSO Martin Griffiths and I arranged a meeting with the help of local councillor Trevor Bates, who has done a fantastic job working with Wrexham Council to hopefully get new gates installed along the tracks. The plans for new gates are a welcome feature that will hopefully deter motorcycles and off-road vehicles using the lanes in future.

"We urge anyone who witnesses anti-social driving in the area to contact officers of 101, or via the web chat.”

Councillor Trevor Bates said: “Enough is enough. My inbox is crammed with similar complaints from local residents who are being driven away from ancient lanes and old drovers' tracks because of touring motorised vehicles with thrill-seeking drivers whose are frightening walkers, cyclists and horse riders away from their local countryside.

"There are some careful and considerate people driving these lanes but we are also seeing more and more illegal activity which seems to attract vehicles from all over the UK and abroad. I'm hearing of more and more confrontations between landowners and 4x4 drivers and motorcyclists."

“I don't want to stop people from enjoying the countryside in a responsible way, but to see my constituents suffer the intrusions of noise, pollution and crime combined with danger and threats is simply not acceptable.

"I am now calling on both Welsh Government and Westminster to undertake a review of the effects that 'off-roading' is having on areas like the Ceiriog Valley and Snowdonia in Wales, and the likes of Cumbria, the Peak District and North Yorkshire National Parks in England.

Simon Baynes MP added: "This is completely unacceptable. It’s extremely important that road users and visitors to the area drive safely, and comply with the law, to prevent dangerous situations. I was grateful to be able to speak to residents and hear from them first-hand about this problem blighting our otherwise idyllic countryside in the Ceiriog Valley.”

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