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Quad bikers and cars reported in Bradford cemetery
Thieves have stolen cast iron bollards at Bradford’s historic Undercliffe Cemetery, leaving the heritage site at risk of further damage.
Quad bike riders have been seen tearing round the site adding to other problems which include groups of intimidating men, graffiti on monuments, drugs paraphernelia being left strewn between graves and men urinating on headstones, it has been claimed.
Dog walker Linda Johnston says the cemetery, one of the UK’s finest Victorian examples, has become a no-go zone for her in the evening because of what is happening there and men asking how much she will sell her dogs for.
She said: “I’ve seen things going on up there that would make your eyes water. I just won’t go there alone on an evening now – my husband has to go instead. I was getting offers for my dogs all the time and then abuse when I tried to ignore them.”
Mrs Johnston, 41, who lives locally said she has reported incidents to Undercliffe Cemetery Charity volunteers, to Bradford Council wardens and patrolling police community support officers.
“All these problems just seem to go unnoticed even though there’s CCTV – I think it’s because they don’t want any conflict,” she said Her husband, Paul, 50, whose parents are buried there, said: “Quads fly past. The other day I saw a car tearing round and realised it had got in because the bollards at the Undercliffe Lane had gone.
“The support officers seem to have a bit of an onslaught now and again and problems calm down but then starts up again. It’s just total disrespect.”
Undercliffe Cemetery is Council-owned but a board of trustees manage and maintain it with help of an annual £20,000 grant towards the running costs. As a “one-off gesture” the Council has said it will pay for the replacement bollards.
Earlier this year trustees of Undercliffe Cemetery Charity spent £4,000 on CCTV but it only covers prime areas of the 26-acre site.
Trustee chairman Allan Hillary, a former Lord Mayor of Bradford, said CCTV footage was regularly checked and was definitely working. He also said if graffiti was reported or spotted it was removed immediately.
There are 16 volunteers and two paid-for workers who also carry out regular patrols of the area. Mr Hillary said trustees would be happy to talk to anyone who has concerns, including Mr and Mrs Johnston.
He said: “We will deal with any problems but there are lots of positive things happening here in the cemetery. We are very upbeat about what we are achieving here and we don’t want anything to distract from that or put people off from visiting us – Bradford’s history is all here in stone, it’s an amazing place.”
The cemetery, with its 23,000 graves, will become the unlikely venue for an arts festival on Saturday, July 7, called Revelling in Secret Spaces.
From noon to 4pm visitors will be encouraged to bring along their camera, find the Cottingley fairies, write poems, help paint a cemetery map, listen to music, trace their family history and enjoy refreshments in the festival’s Promenade Cafe under a marquee.
Other interactive activities and entertainment lined up for the day include a roving theatre performance which includes Sir Titus Salt, the Bronte Sisters and Hamlet’s grave diggers under the direction of Peter Huntley from Bradford Playhouse.
There will also be a Photography Challenge by professional photographer Tony O’Connell and a performance by the Bradford Festival Choral Society.