A police officer was sent to stop a seven-year-old boy sailing a boat on a picturesque tarn - in response to a complaint that he was scaring the ducks.

The officer ordered Christopher Snell, who was with his dad, Adrian, to remove the three-foot, radio-controlled cabin cruiser powered by a petrol engine from the water at Keighley Tarn.

But Mr Snell, 37, an engineer of Silsden, said he was staggered that precious police resources had been used to deal with such a minor incident.

He said: "The officer said the person had told him we were scaring the ducks. I got the impression the policeman himself knew the complaint was a waste of time.

"He agreed we had done nothing wrong but said he still felt he had to inform us of the complaint and ask us to be more considerate.

"We should be encouraging our kids to have hobbies and pastimes instead of whining about anything and everything we personally don't like.

"With the amount of crime in Keighley, surely the police have more important things to do than to rush to the tarn within 20 minutes of a call to harass a father and son with a model boat."

A police spokesman said the force had a duty to respond to even minor complaints. He added that the officer appeared to have had acted with "discretion" .

He said: "We do have a duty to respond to people calling us out. I'm not sure what the member of the public told our officer - he might have thought it was a bunch of kids messing around and causing a nuisance."

Explaining how the officer arrived so quickly, he said: "It could well have been an officer who happened to be in the area at the time and volunteered to pop down and see what was going on."

Bradford Council, which owns the tarn, has an agreement with Keighley Model Engineering Society whose members can use model boats at certain times.

But Mr Snell, who has been sailing electric-powered boats on Keighley Tarn since he was a child, said he had been unaware of the restrictions as there were no notices in place giving details.

John Barraclough, power boat secretary of the society, said he sympathised with Mr Snell because two signs giving information about the permitted times had not been replaced by the Council.

He said: "Mr Snell and his family seem just the type of people we would like to see in the club. I would urge him to join us. I agree with Mr Snell that I would rather see youngsters enjoying themselves on the tarn than wrecking the furniture."

Power boats are permitted to be used between 10am and 8pm on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays, for up to five hours a day, and on Saturdays between 10am and 6pm, again for up to five hours.

The restrictions had been in effect for about five years and throughout that time there had been no complaints.

A Council spokesman confirmed there was an agreement between the society and the Council's Countryside Service about when the tarn could be used for model power boats in consideration of the wildlife.

A sign explaining the days and times when they were allowed to be used was shortly to be replaced after refurbishment, the spokesman said.

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