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Baildon Bank 50-ton rock 'could topple'
Children’s lives are being put at risk by “vandals” believed to be climbers attempting to create a new route up a cliff face in Baildon, it has been claimed.
The climbers have been blamed for trying to create a ‘pinnacle’ – a free-standing rock climbing feature – out of about 50 tons of sandstone at Baildon Bank, using heavy tools such as crowbars to move huge stones.
Baildon environmental warden Mark Scrimshaw investigated after being called by residents living above the secluded rocks who heard the “boom” of large stones falling and heard people with chainsaws cutting down trees.
He is now warning people to stay away following fears the rock face could collapse. Mr Scrimshaw said: “The area is well used by children and walkers and my concern is that some of the rock face could fall down.
“The rock must weigh at the very least 50 tons and, if that came down, it could kill a whole group of people.”
He said he feared there would be an accident, similar to that which killed Baildon dad Gerry Thornton in 2002. The 32-year-old died when a sandstone outcrop he was standing on collapsed and plummeted down a 50ft cliff on Baildon Moor.
He added: “They have no idea what the knock-on effect of removing huge pieces of stone could be to the stability of the cliff face.”
Mr Scrimshaw, who works for Baildon parish council, contacted former soldier Ian Lyons, a member of the British Mountaineering Council (BMC), who said moving boulders could make the area “very unstable and dangerous.”
Mr Lyons, of Cliffe Avenue, said: “It seems quite clear what is going on. They have been clearing a landing area and using the metal bars to clear rocks and lever out larger pieces of stone. What they are trying to do is create a pinnacle as an interesting feature to climb around.
“This could make it very unstable and dangerous. It could fall down at any time.”
He called the police to report what he described as “vandalism” but was told they couldn’t take action until Bradford Council, the landowner, makes an official complaint. He has now alerted the Council. He warned: “Until it has been inspected, children should stay away and the climbers should stop what they are doing.”
Danny Jackson, Bradford Council’s countryside and rights of way service manager, said action would be taken against anyone damaging rocks at Baildon Bank.
He said: “If we find evidence we will report it to the police.
“We would also ask members of the public to report anyone they see causing damage in the area.”