POLICE have pledged to hold an operation in the Ceiriog Valley in a bid to stop illegal off-road drivers damaging wildlife and farmers’ property.
More than 150 people packed into the Canolfan Ceiriog Centre in Glyn Ceiriog last Thursday night to voice their concerns to North Wales Police, Natural Resources Wales, the National Farmers Union and Wrexham Access Forum.
The meeting, called by Rebecca Holmes, PCSO for the area, was chaired by North Wales Assembly Member, Aled Roberts.
PCSO Holmes said there has been a growing number of complaints about people taking trail bikes and 4x4s on footpaths, bridle paths and across open ground where they had no right to be.
She said vehicles had damaged historical routes and had even caused flooding problems by affecting the ground.
PCSO Holmes said she and traffic sergeant Alan Davies were planning an operation and she hoped to catch those destroying the byways but she emphasised not all users were operating illegally.
She said any illegal drivers found would be issued with a Section 59, which could lead to them having their vehicles destroyed.
Aled Roberts, former Wrexham Council leader, urged those in attendance to report to police any anti-social behaviour or driving offences they witness.
He said: “Senior officers will only authorise these operations regularly if they have the evidence.”
Sgt Davies admitted the police could not always attend every incident reported but said they needed to log as much information as possible.
PCSO Holmes said forms would be left in the village for people to write down their experiences, the information would then be collated and all interested parties can get together and try and catch the culprits.
Sgt Davies explained the difference between byways, bridleways, footpaths and private land. He said the trail bikers and 4x4s were within their rights to use byways.
Aled Roberts said he was disappointed that nobody from Wrexham Council’s Rights of Way department had attended, but told the meeting Powys County Council had been fighting for the past two years to have two byways downgraded in a bid to stop the trail bikers and 4x4 drivers.
Numerous members of the public said they had been verbally abused by 4x4 drivers and voiced their frustration that their beautiful valley was being destroyed by people from outside the area.
They said people from as far afield as Yorkshire were running businesses encouraging people to come to the Ceiriog Valley to trail bike and go off-road.
The police said they needed as much information as possible but pledged it was an issue they were prepared to help address.