Authorities in Gateshead have used a new legal power for the first time in a bid to tackle anti-social behaviour (ASB) in the area.
Countryside bridleways and footways at Kibblesworth have been plagued by motorcyclists riding off-road, causing nuisance and being a potential danger to other users of the area. Despite previous efforts to warn bikers to be more considerate, the problem has persisted.
Anybody caught riding a motorcycle or quad bike on the bridleways and footways in or around the area set out in the order can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of up to £100 or £1000 upon prosecution.
PSPOs can be enforced by a police officer, police community support officer and council officers.
“The antisocial use of motorbikes has been a problem for people in Kibblesworth for many years and is regularly reported to the police and the council.”
“These public rights of way are ideal for families, dog walkers, cyclists and horse riders who have the right to use these pathways for peaceful recreation.
“The behaviour of a small group of motorcyclists is causing disturbance for those living nearby the bridleway and for those trying to use it.”
Prior to the PSPO, the problem was raised at community meetings and a Multi-Agency Tasking Group, made up of officers from Northumbria Police, Gateshead Council and The Gateshead Housing Company, set about finding the pattern of behaviour.
Historically the country bridleway was an old railway line that ran behind Ouselaw, near Kibblesworth and led to Birtley.
Many of the riders are believed to live locally in Kibblesworth or Birtley who ride along the lines between the two areas. Police also found that some riders travel out of the area specifically use the old railway lines for off-road motorcycling.
Police Officers from the Gateshead South Neighbourhood Police Team formed Operation Goldwing to try and curb the problem.
The Police verbally warned 14 riders and issued eight Warning Notices to people caught off-road motorcycling, however the problem persisted.
“48 of these have been for the Kibblesworth area. Despite our officers warning riders who are caught off-road motorcycling, the problem is still ongoing.
“The PSPO will give the Police and Gateshead Council Officers the powers to remove people from the area who are in breach of the order and also fine them.
“We hope the use of the order will significantly disrupt offending riders and give the public and residents of Kibblesworth the protection they deserve from this problem.”
Funding has been provided by The Gateshead Housing Company and Gateshead Council to install kissing gates on the pathway which will allow people to pass through but stop anything large like a motorbike from passing through.
The order can be read on Gateshead Council’s website.
Photo above: Inspector Mick Robson from Northumbria Police and Councillor Linda Green are pictured at the countryside bridleways and footways at Kibblesworth that are now the subject of a Public Space Protection Order.