THERE was a visible police presence in Ilkley on Thursday last week a day after the force made the unusual move of putting a Dispersal Order in place amid growing fears over heatwave disorder.

Just 24 hours earlier the police had been called to large groups of people fighting in the town.

The Dispersal Order was exercised at 4.12pm on Wednesday and lasted for 48 hours.

It meant officers were be able to move people on if they were deemed to be acting in an anti-social manner.

Ilkley is a top destination when temperatures soar, with people flocking down to the banks of the River Wharfe – and the coronavirus crisis and lockdown has apparently increased its appeal.

Cllr Anne Hawkesworth (Ind, Ilkley), who has consistently raised the issue with the council and the police, said: “Enough is enough - the authorities, between them, need to get their act together.”

Conservative district councillors Kyle Green and Mike Gibbons and the town’s MP Robbie Moore have also demanded that real action is taken to prevent a recurrence of the events. While praising the incredible work of police officers, council staff and volunteers, both councillors and Mr Moore are determined real investment must be made in order to stop the dangerous behaviour around the suspension bridge, as well as the illegal parking along Denton Road.

Cllr Green accompanied local PCSOs on a site visit around the riverside parks and spent time speaking to British Transport Police and senior police officers in order to understand how to best implement a multi-agency response.

Cllr Green said: “The fantastic work undertaken by West Yorkshire Police and others helped to stop a recurrence of trouble during the 48 hours the dispersal order was in place and I want to thank them for the incredible effort they put in. While the dispersal order worked as a measure to address the issues after they had begun, it is clear that Bradford Council need to invest in measures to stop the suspension bridge being an attraction for those wishing to undertake unacceptable behaviour and that Denton Road requires bollards or other objects placed in areas where dangerous and illegal parking is taking place.

“This must happen now as the riverside issues are well documented and the time for inaction by the council is over, especially when the cost of inaction is to potentially allow a repeat of this intolerable situation for Ilkley residents.”

Cllr Mike Gibbons added: “Living here residents fully accept that we have and welcome visitors - we share Ilkley with responsible, clean and respectful tourists. What is unacceptable is mindless damage, drink and drug fuelled disruptive and threatening behaviour that leaves ‘us’ unable to enjoy our town as we should also be entitled to do, particularly in summer time. This continuing problem needs to be stamped on with some pretty ‘hard thumping boots’ in order to send out the message that Ilkley is not here to be abused.”

Mr Moore MP said: “The police carried out an excellent operation last week in making sure that the scenes which have become a regular occurrence in Ilkley were not repeated to the same extent to which they have been over the last few years.

“I am pleased that they used their powers to enforce a dispersal order in the town, however this is not a sustainable long term solution. We need to implement a proper plan for our area to ensure that our town can be enjoyed by both residents and tourists during periods of nice weather. Too many residents have told me that Ilkley is a no go area during the summer months - this is not right and something needs to be done.”