Mixed reaction to Richmond falls protection order plan

Rubbish left behind at the falls on Thursday. Photo: S/Sgt Slattery/North Yorkshire Police.

A plan to help tackle antisocial behaviour by large crowds at the falls in Richmond following the easing of lockdown has received a mixed reaction.

Richmondshire District Council’s corporate board will next week be asked to consider a proposal to develop a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) following widespread concerns over gatherings of predominantly younger people from across the North of England at the falls and Batts, in Richmond.

Other proposed measures include spending up to £2,000 per bank holiday weekend on security guards, a residents parking scheme and closing the council’s car park at the falls.

A report to the committee states the gatherings were “premeditated parties organised via social media” and involved drunkenness, drug-taking, illegal and inconsiderate parking, littering and other incidents in and around the area.

Members will hear the PSPO would empower the authority to manage any future incidents, enabling it to issue on-the-spot fines of up to £100 for breaches of conditions such as a ban on alcohol and other intoxicating substances.

Councillor Helen Grant, the council’s member lead for community safety said the antisocial behaviour had been “intolerable” for residents and a long-term remedy was needed.

She said she was hopeful a decision would be made to pursue launching a PSPO.

Cllr Grant said: “It certainly isn’t a hammer to crack a nut.

“Residents who have contacted me are passionate about the area. The order would remove the alcohol drugs, large groups and give the police and council tangible powers.

“An order doesn’t have to be forever – it is reviewed and a further decisions can be made into the future to keep it or remove it.”

She said both she and Richmond councillor Stuart Parsons had funded road traffic schemes in the area from their county council locality budgets to ease some of the issues.

Cllr Grant added: “Emergency vehicles must be able to access Sleegill and were unable to hence why it is still coned.

“Added CCTV coverage is now in place.”

However, concerns have previously been raised over the ability of North Yorkshire Police to respond to such incidents in Richmondshire, given its nearest custody cells are in Harrogate.

Councillor Kevin Foster, a corporate board member, questioned whether the district council would have the resources to enforce the PSPO and said a PSPO that was approved in nearby Colburn had proved ineffective.

He said: “I think we are looking at public disorder and the police should deal with it.

“It is more of an educational and cultural change we need coming out of Covid.

“Launching a PSPO in Richmond could just spread the problem elsewhere, to other places in Richmondshire like Arkengarthdale or Keld.”