POLICE are getting tough on illegal off-road bikers who are blighting a beauty spot popular with dog walkers, joggers and families.
The leafy, tree-lined avenue that forms the Whelley Loop Line is regularly over-run with bikers who use the green artery that runs through Aspull, New Springs, Amberswood and Hindley as a rally race track.
Now police and council teams have pledged to get tough with the off-roaders. Wigan Neighbourhood Policing Team and the council’s Neighbourhood Team drafted in the experts - Greater Manchester Police’s Specialist Operations Branch, a regional team of off-road motorcycle cops who have their visors set on nuisance riders.
A team of six police riders were deployed as part of an intensive operation to track down illegal off-roaders, issue fines and confiscate vehicles - and so far, five Section 59 warnings have been issued to youths found to be using bikes in an anti-social manner and if caught a second time, they face having their vehicles confiscated and crushed.
Further action is planned in September in Higher and Lower Ince, again covering part of the Loop Line; and additional campaigns are in the pipeline for other hot spots across the borough.
Insp Glenn Jones of Wigan Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “Illegal off-roaders cause nuisance in our neighbourhoods and present risks to the safety of others.
“The Whelley Loop Line is easily accessible from adjoining residential areas around New Springs and Aspull.
It provides a short cut through to the plantations in Haigh and is a fast track to Amberswood, Hindley and beyond. So it’s a very popular route for off-roaders who are essentially spoiling this valuable amenity for others.
“We are determined to banish illegal off-roaders from this area and to ensure that everybody in the community can use the Loop Line safely.”
As part of the seasonal campaign, signs have been erected along this stretch of the line to remind perpetrators of the potential consequences they face if caught breaking the law. And given their successful track record following earlier crackdowns, partners are confident of getting similar results this time round.
Inspector Phil Bromley of the Greater Manchester Police (GMP) Roads Policing Unit, said: “Over the past couple of years, we’ve had far fewer complaints relating to illegal off-road nuisance which is very encouraging.
“I’m confident that recent significant reductions are down to partners adopting a ‘zero tolerance’ stance.”
The off-road campaign also coincided with a clean-up of the area.
Inspector Bromley added: “We appeal for people to contact us with information that can lead to prosecutions, including details about the location, a description of the perpetrator and information about the vehicle including make, model, colour and registration.”
You can report any off-road incident to Greater Manchester Police in confidence on 0161 872 5050 or by calling Wigan Council’s ASB hotline on 01942 404364.