Dozens of Bradford streets have been made a "no-go area" by cleansing chiefs after an attack on a woman street cleaner.

The woman was pulled from a mechanical street sweeper by eight youths as she was doing her rounds.

She was left badly shocked and distressed although physically unharmed.

Bradford Council has now withdrawn services from about 23 streets including Harewood Street, Sandford Road and Folkestone Street, in Bradford Moor, until it is safe for staff to return.

Letters have been sent to religious and community groups to explain the decision and ward councillors were notified last night.

Regen 2000, which is spearheading a multi-million pound scheme to improve the area through an award from the Government's Single Regeneration Budget, has spent large amounts improving cleanliness in Bradford Moor.

The partnership board spent thousands of pounds purchasing new bins and also agreed to sponsor a mechanical street sweeper for the area, which is one of the most deprived in Bradford, according to Government statistics.

Today, chairman of the board Shaukat Ahmed, said: "I am disappointed and sad. It is the first I have heard about it and I will be seeking talks with the Council.

"I would urge the community to look at this seriously. We have tried to do extra cleaning and improve this area and lots of people have seen things getting better. But the safety of staff is paramount."

The Council's executive member for the environment, Councillor Anne Hawksworth, said: "It is regrettable the service has had to be suspended because of the actions of a mindless few.

"But the workforce cannot be put in danger and in places where they are not treated in a proper manner and not treated with respect. I want people to know it is not the Council's fault that the streets are not being cleaned."

Richard Wixey, director of environmental protection and waste management, said the woman was working in Amberley Street when the attack happened.

Police were investigating and the Council was now reviewing working practices for the staff with a view to them operating in pairs.

"Street cleaning is a service to the community and we want to make sure the district is clean. That is why we are there. It is very unfortunate that this should have happened," he said.

Councillor Jeanette Sunderland, a board member of Regen 2000 and leader of the Liberal-Democrat group said: " Risk assessments are continuing. We will not tolerate this behaviour."

The Council withdrew gritters from large areas of Bradford two years ago leaving icy roads after a driver was badly shaken when two bricks shattered his front windscreen in Victoria Road, Eccleshill, Bradford. There were also attacks on the gritting vehicles in Canterbury estate, Ravenscliffe, Fagley Road, Haworth Road, Keighley's Braithwaite estate and Stoney Lane.