NEW powers to tackle problem behaviour at Ilkley’s Riverside area have been approved at a meeting of Bradford councillors this week.

A Public Space Protection Order for the area was proposed earlier this year in response to the huge crowds and antisocial behaviour problems that have blighted the town in recent summers.

The meeting heard how public drinking, drug taking and anti-social behaviour by those visiting the river made locals feel “unsafe” on sunny days.

The new order gives council wardens the power to hand out fines of up to £100 to people who take part in drinking alcohol, taking drugs, including “legal highs”, or “tombstoning” from the bridge into the river.

Bradford Council’s Regulatory and Appeals Committee heard from one local councillor who claimed the riverside has become known as a place where people “can come and cause trouble”.

Introducing a report into the measures, a council officer told the meeting: “Antisocial behaviour there has escalated to the point where the majority of people visiting the site, during hot weather are saying they feel unsafe.”

He said 82 percent of people surveyed were in support of the order, while just under two thirds said they felt unsafe in the area during hot weather.

“The problem has been escalating over a number of years,” he added. “It’s not a new problem. The police on hot days have a significant presence there. They will pick up illegality. We have youth workers who will attend there, and neighbourhood wardens

“But without any teeth, it is difficult to stop some of these behaviours when people are consuming alcohol.

“People won’t be just slapped with a fine. We are not aiming to issue fines, we are there – only as a last resort will we be continuing to fine people.”

Addressing the panel, Ilkley councillor Kyle Green (Con) said: “We have needed this for a number of years in Ilkley, some of the behaviour is unacceptable. People who jump off the bridge often do it as a result of being very drunk or using nitrous oxide.

“The area has become renowned as a place where people can come and cause trouble. The (rail) line from Leeds to Ilkley is not a pleasant line on a hot day.

“People are jumping off the train clearly with the intent to cause antisocial behaviour, with crates of beer and other activities. This is something that has to be addressed.”

Speaking about the proposals, panel member Coun Alan Wainwright (Lab) said: “I compare this with the ones we set up in the centre of Bradford a few years ago, to tremendous success. It’s given the police and the council the powers to move people on – I am in favour.”

Fellow member Coun Doreen Lee (Lab) added: “It will give the council the power to dot the ‘I’s and cross the ‘T’s.”

Committee Chair Coun David Warburton (Lab) said: “It is important we get these things in place to protect the majority of people who are not causing these problems.

“It is always a minority that disrupt things for everybody else, so we have to put in place as many things as we can that we are able to do.

“If it carries on, we will have to look at other ways of strengthening that – and it will be under constant review from officers and local councillors.”

The meeting was told the measures would be reviewed every three years at a maximum.

The panel voted to introduce the measures.