Trustees of Heaton Woods have warned that part of the beauty spot may have to be closed following "wanton vandalism" in which more than 40 trees were destroyed.

Guardians of the woods were devastated to find trees more than a decade old had been hacked with a saw and bent to destruction.

An avenue of walnut trees planted over the past ten years by the district's lord mayors and a crab apple tree were included in the carnage.

A "kissing" gate was also vandalised within the part of the woodland that is owned by Heaton Woods Trust.

The trust recently sealed off part of its 40 acres to protect people from dogs off their leads.

Now, trust members say they may be forced to close woodland to members of the public if the vandalism continues.

Member and founder of the Safe Areas for Everyone Project Elizabeth Hellmich said: "I was absolutely devastated. I have been around the woods for as long as I can remember.

"We get children breaking branches but we have never seen such wanton vandalism. Whoever did this had every intention of destroying the woodland.

"We have had some problems with people who have not agreed with the trust's laws with regards to access. A certain group think they have a right to wander in the woods but they don't.

"If this vandalism continues, there is a strong possibility the woods will be closed to preserve the trees."

Committee member John Tenant said he was "incensed" by the vandalism. He said: "This was directed vandalism. We have to take advice and we could close all our permissive footpaths. But this is a draconian step and would punish all the people of Heaton without reason."

The trust was established as a charity in 1978 to "protect and care for the woods for the benefit of present and future generations".

The land was due to be sold for housing 30 years ago when local residents stepped in to buy it.

Over time, more land has been acquired and today more than 40 acres are managed by the trust.

Bradford Council owns some of the woodland, as do local landowners the Dixon family.

Police are investigating the incident. Sargeant Richard Cummings from Manningham neighbourhood policing team said: "At this stage we have no suspects. We know there have been issues regarding the woods."

Anyone with information should contact the neighbourhood policing team on (01274) 376332.


  • Start or join a debate on this issue in our online forum - Click here