Express & Star

Yobs on bikes forcing visitors out of beauty spot

Yobs on off-road motorcycles are forcing people out of Dudley’s biggest public park according to campaigners in Wollescote.

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Cllr Ryan Priest with campaigners Julia Marks, Craig Lees, Michael Troon and David Sheppard.

Members of the Friends of Stevens Park say it’s only a matter of time before hooligans riding around the park cause an injury while any attempt to challenge them results in aggression and abuse.

People in the area are now calling on police and Dudley Council to step up efforts to rid the park of the unwanted menace.

Julia Marks, chair of the park’s friends group, said: “We have grave concerns about the safety of people using the park.

“We’d like more action before someone gets seriously hurt, this is a particular issue on evenings and weekends.”

“The park thrives on footfall and, until the issue is addressed, Wollescote park can’t be the park it truly wants to be because people are put off by the risk, they are in fear of coming across a motorbike.

“These people seem to think they are above the law, in the most recent issue as a lady was taking a photograph of the people speeding along the pathway they were just shouting obscenities from the back of the bike.”

Resident Craig Lees described his encounter with the rogue riders, he said: “I was over the park with my grandson who was three at the time, he was running around enjoying the park.

“Motorcyclists came across, two or three of them on different bikes just tearing the place around.

“When I asked them to calm it down I got a round of expletives and a threat.”

West Midlands Police say officers are taking action to deal with illegal biking in the park.

Chief Inspector Billy Sohal, of Dudley Police, said: “The issue with bikers in Stevens Park is high on our list of priorities, and we have officers patrolling in and around the park regularly.

“We often speak to residents and businesses to listen to their concerns and understand the extent of the problem.

“As we move into the warmer months, we have further operations planned to identify and arrest those responsible.”

Cradley and Wollescote councillor Ryan Priest has now joined calls for more action.

Cllr Priest said: “If I knock on ten doors in Wollescote, seven or eight will tell me about the off-road bikes: it is the biggest issue that affects people in Wollescote.”

Cllr Priest has tabled a motion at the next meeting of Dudley Council calling for measures including a survey to identify illegal off-road biking hotspots and that the council contacts the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner to express dissatisfaction with how police respond to the issue.

He added: “It is the police’s job to respond, my motion will push to the limit what the council can do to tackle the issue legally and puts the issue firmly on the desk for the Police and Crime Commissioner.”

Chf Insp Sohal said: “We are in touch with the local authority and other community partners to discuss how we can tackle the problem, and I’d urge people living in the community who have information about people who ride these bikes illegally to get in touch.

“We are particularly keen to know who is using these bikes and where they are being stored.”