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‘Criminal’ bike gangs worry Ely residents despite reassurance

Bikers sprayed an elderly man in Trelai Park while he was walking his dog

RESIDENTS in Ely and Caerau remain worried about criminal bike groups, despite police reports that matters are improving.

At a meeting at Western Leisure Centre residents shared their concerns about a rise in off-road motorbikes threatening pedestrians and road users.

However, South Wales Police and Caerau councillor Peter Bradbury said the number of off-road bikers had dropped dramatically due to new police measures.

One resident told the November 21 meeting that he had found bikers circling an an elderly man walking his dog in Trelai Park.

Peter Collins, 70, from Trelai Park, said: “They were spraying the old man with mud and frightening his dog. He was reduced to tears.”

Mr Collins said off-road bikers also ran over his daughter’s dog, causing her pet to lose its leg.

“People are frightened,” he added.

Another resident, who does not wish to be named, told The Cardiffian she is too scared to let her daughter play on her street because of the bikes.

The woman, who lives on Archer Road, said: “They have no care for anyone else, they run red lights, use the walkways and are just reckless. I have an eight-year-old girl who is not allowed to play in our street because of the fear she will be hit by one of the bikes.”

She said that one Monday morning a teenager drove their scrambler down the pavement pulling wheelies at high speed.

“I panicked because all the children were leaving for school,” the mother explained.

One 70-year-old resident from Plymouth Wood Crescent who also wishes to remain anonymous added: “The bikers want to shock people, they enjoy frightening people.”

During the meeting Coun Bradbury stressed the importance of separating the behaviour of illegal motorbike groups from off-road bike enthusiasts in the area.

“These are very angry criminals,” he said. “All the people who have been arrested were also arrested with other criminal offences.”

Ely off-road bike enthusiast Ryan Sullivan said action was needed to stop teenagers joining biker gangs. “Other bikers are copying this American gangster crap, we need to stop children following them,” he said.

For three years Mr Sullivan has worked with councillors and residents as part of the Bike Track Ely Woods organisation allowing teenagers and children to use off-road bikes safely.

“I took 10 kids from the community to a bike track one Sunday out of my own pocket. They loved it – I could see the smiles through their helmets and it cost less than £40.”

Members of BikeTrackElyWoods learning how to use off-road bikes safely

Members of Bike Track Ely Woods learn how to use off-road bikes safely.

At the meeting AM for Cardiff Central Neil McEvoy said not enough had been done to stop the illegal bikers.

“This problem has gone on for far too long. Too much trouble has been caused by it. Has enough been done? No it hasn’t,” he said.

But Coun Bradbury and South Wales Police say the problem has improved since Operation Red Mana, a collaboration between police and councillors in Ely and Caerau in June and July.

It involved 10 drones being used to find and identify bike owners without a driving licence or insurance.

Constable Gary Lovegrove, of Ely North, said: “The drones have been a turning point, the bikers know that every time they come out to play there is a likelihood they will be reported to summons.”

Jay Davies, sector deputy and head of the operation, said: “The number of calls has dropped dramatically. Members of the public have noticed a massive reduction in the number of off-road bikes.”

Sergeant Davies said Red Mana also aimed to educate off-road bikers about the law and stop them using areas such as Plymouth Great Wood and Trelai Park.

“When we explained to bikers who use the woods about the noise disturbance and effect on quality of life they were totally sympathetic. They didn’t realise it was against the law.”

Operation Red Mana has now been extended throughout West Cardiff.

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