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10:15 AM 27th June 2020

Litter And Social Behaviour Problems Throughout The County: An Example Letter

We have heard of numerous accounts about atrocious behaviour by recent visitors to the Dales. Here is an example letter, with photographic evidence:

Dear Sir/ Madam,

I am writing to you as Chairman of Burnsall Parish Meeting to reflect the concerns of villagers over the problems that have happened over the last few weeks.

Parking both sides of the road and causing a complete blockage
Parking both sides of the road and causing a complete blockage
We live in a beautiful part of the world and are pleased to share it with visitors. A lot of people in the community, in normal times, depend on visitors for their living. However, the last few weeks have stretched the patience of locals to the limit.

Car Parking

The roads have become blocked and, at times, impassable for emergency or farm vehicles. After a (socially distanced) pastoral visit to a church parishioner living in Hartlington we tried to return to Burnsall over Burnsall Bridge. We found the road totally blocked by cars being double parked (see picture). A lorry had become stuck in the middle of a long double row of cars. Cars had built up behind it and in front and nobody could move. I turned around at the bottom of Hartlington Raikes and undertook an 8-mile detour via Hebden, Grassington and Linton.

There have also been incidents where other roads have been blocked with no space for vehicles to pass. Also, farmer's gates have been blocked by cars. We have felt abandoned by the authorities. I and others have reported these problems before but have had little assistance. I know there have been problems all over the county. We are in touch with other communities and they have all been suffering from the same problems.

Traffic Wardens

I got a little frustrated on Thursday, 25th June, when I had to visit Skipton in the morning and found it very quiet with loads of spaces available in car parks and on the High Street. There was obviously no need for a Traffic Warden and I presume this would be the same in Harrogate and other parts of North Yorkshire. Why were these resources not used where the trouble spots were?

We did, on the Thursday (25th), witness some parking attendants come through the village. Nobody has reported to me that they saw any ticketing being done. Under the freedom of information act could I enquire how many tickets have been issued in our village in the month of June. We will be reviewing what can be done as a community, and liaising with other villages about these problems. We feel that we have no help, no guidance and no leadership on these matters.

This photograph highlights the lack of social distancing on Burnsall Village Green on 25th June and also, at the top right, a car parked on double yellow lines on Joy Beck Bridge. We have all witnessed large groups of people congregating on the village green and at Loup Scar with no concern for social distancing. We are told that people are observing the rules!!!
This photograph highlights the lack of social distancing on Burnsall Village Green on 25th June and also, at the top right, a car parked on double yellow lines on Joy Beck Bridge. We have all witnessed large groups of people congregating on the village green and at Loup Scar with no concern for social distancing. We are told that people are observing the rules!!!
The hot weather on Wednesday and Thursday saw Burnsall, like many other beauty spots in Craven, inundated with visitors. Locals would love to welcome visitors desperate for a bit of fresh air and countryside. The problem is that the roads have been jammed by cars parking anywhere they can with little regard to the space left for traffic to move around. Problems have been caused to local farmers with them unable to move around in tractors and also gates being blocked.

Even more distressing is the total lack of care and respect for the countryside. Abandoned barbecues, used nappies, bottles (sometimes smashed to add more danger), cans, unopened food packages, gas cannisters, dog pooh bags and, even more despicable, human excrement. Locals have struggled to keep up with clearing the detritus left by visitors.

It was heartening on Friday morning when two locals started clearing rubbish to find that a lot had been moved to a bin. They were almost moved to tears however when they moved to the top of Loup Scar to find an appalling scene which was a terrible indictment of human behaviour. They were very grateful to find a mother and daughter from Skipton who had made a start on the clear up. The daughter had been at Loup Scar on the Thursday and was appalled at the litter left by visitors. She resolved to come back in the morning with her mother to clear up.

The group were joined by another couple of ladies from Burley-in-Wharfedale who were walking along the River Wharfe. Burnsall Parish Meeting Chairman, Ed Williams, would like to pass on the thanks of villagers for this effort and to know that it is not just locals who care. A pity that this group are overshadowed by a large number who do not give a toss how they leave a beauty spot. He would also thank the large number of locals who have worked over the last few weeks to keep the litter problem under control. Many locals are concerned by the horrific behaviour over the last two periods of hot weather and there are many suggestions of how to move to overcome these problems of parking and litter.

Litter and offensive language

Some of the used gas cannisters at Loup Scar
Some of the used gas cannisters at Loup Scar
The above letter only covers one day in what has been a continuous battle against litter. It has stretched the local's patience to the limit. It has sadly been accompanied by verbal abuse. One land owner suffered abuse when he was told "What's it got to do with you. You don't own the f...... land". The response came politely that actually he did. He was greeted with more abuse and just told to "F... Off".

Another lady when being polite to a visitor was told that she was "a wizened old bitch". These have in effect become no go areas where some locals fear to tread.


Part of the litter
Part of the litter

The worst incident

The worst incident of the whole summer happened on Wednesday evening, 24th June. A Burnsall resident heard someone in his garden. He discovered a young man just about to defecate. The home owner generously let the young man use the toilet in his house. The visitor left without saying thank you; but he had left his calling card as the walls and light switch of the toilet had been smeared with faeces. Unbelievable.

I have written this open letter in response to emails, phone calls and conversations with villagers and other people around the parish. We are, above all, looking for leadership from the various bodies that have oversight of this area. Also, for some assistance from various bodies who have powers of enforcement. I hope that all the bodies that I am writing to take on some responsibility I pray and hope that you do not just say "This is not our responsibility" or "You should get in touch with x".