Hob Moor disabled access gates in working order

Claims were made in the media earlier in the week that access gates at the entrance to Hob Moor were faulty. The gates are intended to allow movement, by people with disabilities, to the path around the moor and have been in use for nearly 20 years. They can be operated using a “RADAR” key. The keys are widely available,  

One Hob Moor access point for disabled users is obstructed by nettles and thistles.

The gates allow entry for 3 and 4 wheel specialist machines and wheelchairs although the configuration may be awkward for some types of cycle.

There is an adjacent pedestrian “kissing gate” as well as a separate lane for conventional cycles.

There are 6 gates positioned at key points around the perimeter of the moor. They were installed many years ago as part of a configuration which was aimed  at preventing access by off road motorcycles. The motorcycles had become a  major source of irritation to nearby residents. The motorcyclists had also caused disruption to wildlife (particularly ground nesting birds) and flora on the moor.

The design also aimed to secure the moor for cattle grazing.

Generally the arrangements achieved their objective, with much of Hob Moor now a peaceful haven for wildlife.

The gate mechanisms were all working correctly yesterday.

One gate near Hob Moor Drive was obstructed by weeds and nettles and this has been referred to a local Councillor for attention.

There is some pressure for improvements. The equipment needs to be repainted. There is a suggestion that there should be a trial removal of one of the “plinths” at a cycle access point. This would allow cyclists to move more freely through the dedicated lane without the risk of getting a bent pedal.

More ambitious is a proposal to replace the RADAR keys with an electronic version which could also involve powered gates. Such options were not available 20 years ago when the gates were designed. The proposal would be  expensive to implement

There will be some who think that the top priority should be to ensure that maintenance standards on existing routes are improved. This would include an improved inspection regime, the systematic removal of overgrowth and repairs to signs/lineage.

 The same could also be said of the obstructed cycle and footpaths which can be found in other parts of the City.

Natural environment under pressure from fly-tippers in parts of York

Several nature areas are suffering problems with dumping and litter.

The problem is likely to get worse as the summer approaches. Not only is there no local recycling centre on the west of the City, but the regular skip visits, funded by the Council on many estates, ceased suddenly on 1st April.

These are some of the areas that we have reported recently

Foxwood park dumping

Acomb Wood Meadow dumping

Acomb Wood Meadow tree cover being eroded

Westfield Fen woodland covered in litter

Remains of a bonfire adjacent to Westfield bog

Some residents are now saying that the boundaries of nature areas should be secured – with access allowed only under supervision – at least until the areas have had a chance to regenerated.

Areas like the Foxwood Park are, however, widely used for other leisure activities and here enforcement of anti dumping laws appears to be the only way forward. The Council may install CCTV cameras to catch dumpers.  

Fly tipping fines can now be as much as £400.

The Foxwood Residents Association is starting discussions with Accent Housing which is the landlord of some of the proprieties which border the threatened areas. They will be asking for their help in funding improvements along the boundaries together with regular clean ups.

In addition it will be suggested that  skips visit the estate regularly to allow tenants to dispose of unwanted items.

Wildlife is,however, thriving on the Lowfields playing fields the boundary of which is normally secured.

Ironically this is an area that the Council hopes to develop.


Police go online to mark Wildlife Crime Awareness Week

North Yorkshire Police are urging members of the public to join officers in supporting national Wildlife Crime Awareness Week.
Wildlife crime

The week runs from 19 to 25 October 2015, and is an opportunity for people to get involved in the fight against wildlife crime – both online, by raising awareness, and offline, by acting as the ‘eyes and ears’ of the police, particularly in rural areas.

Police are also marking the week by launching a dedicated wildlife crime Twitter account – the first of its kind in the region.

North Yorkshire Police has 16 specially trained Wildlife Crime Officers, who, along with their normal duties, investigate crimes against wildlife. They will either assist other police officers or take the lead role in the investigation of more intricate cases, and can also offer training and advice to colleagues. They also give talks to local schools and community groups, support local schemes such as Farmwatch and Rural Watch, and provide advice to the public alongside other organisations at countryside events like the Great Yorkshire Show.lizard

The new Twitter account, @NYPWCOS (www.twitter.com/nypwcos), has already been used to share information and warnings about illegal traps, poaching offences and badger persecution.

Insp Vicky Taylor, who holds the portfolio for wildlife crime at North Yorkshire Police, said: “We take all reports of wildlife crime extremely seriously, and Wildlife Crime Awareness Week is an opportunity to highlight our commitment to tackling this criminality. Particularly in rural areas, members of the public and local Watch scheme volunteers provide valuable support, often acting as the ‘eyes and ears’ of the police, and I would urge anyone who wants to join us in the fight against countryside crime to get in touch by calling 101.”

The @NYPWCOS Twitter account is run by PC Gareth Jones, Ripon Rural Beat Manager and Wildlife Crime Co-ordinator. He said: “Wildlife crime is cruel and illegal. However, people may not always report it because they don’t know what to spot, or what constitutes a crime. Wildlife Crime Awareness Week and our new Twitter account is all about educating members of the public about wildlife crime, as well as asking people to come forward and report any suspicious activity to the police.”

Already this year, a number of wildlife criminals have been convicted thanks to the hard work and vigilance of police officers, local Watch schemes and members of the community – including a hare courser in Melsonby, poachers in East Cowton, sheep rustlers in Skipton and many more.

Other wildlife crime-related activity includes:

  • • In March 2015, North Yorkshire Police took part in the UN’s World Wildlife Day;
  • In May, the force launched a major poster campaign to highlight the dangers of illegal wildlife poisoning;
  • In June, PCs Gareth Jones and Sarah Ward appeared live on BBC One’s Crimewatch Roadshow to demonstrate the impact of wildlife crime in rural communities;
  • In July, North Yorkshire Police’s online rural crime awareness campaign – which includes wildlife crime messages – was a finalist in the UK Public Sector Communications Awards. The campaign has also been shortlisted in the Digital Entrepreneur Awards in November;
  • Throughout the summer, officers attended events and shows, including the Great Yorkshire Show, with a Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW) displayer trailer;
  • And in August the force joined an innovative project with NFU Mutual to train officers to tackle livestock theft.
    The term ‘wildlife crime’ encompasses a very wide variety of offences – everything from the unlawful trapping of wild animals to disturbing cetaceans. North Yorkshire Police have published comprehensive advice and guidance about wildlife crime at www.northyorkshire.police.uk/wildlifecrime.

Wildlife Crime Awareness Week is supported by World Animal Protection in partnership with Crimestoppers.

New Community Wildlife Officer joins York

Providing better opportunities for people to participate in improving & enjoying the biodiversity of their local area is just one of the tasks York’s new Community Wildlife Officer will be undertake.

The new Community wildlife project is one of 15 different projects throughout the UK. The York based project is hosted in partnership between City Of York Council and the Conservation Volunteers (TCV) through a share of the national Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £725,200 awarded to TCV for their Natural Networks programme.

York’s new Community Wildlife Officer, Margaret Trigg, has been appointed through this partnership to help deliver this programme over a 12-month period to help enrich the biodiversity and enjoyment of green spaces within the city.

Margaret Trigg, Community Wildlife Officer, said: “I’m very fortunate to have conservation, protecting habitats and the welfare of communities at the centre of my working day. It’s fantastic to be listing the outcomes of projects as ‘some more birdsong’, or a ‘glimpse of a Speckled wood butterfly’, and to be measuring return on investment in terms of the increase in the feeling of wellbeing of local people.”

Margaret brings with her a wealth of experience, having worked for many years as a rural land manager and more recently having volunteered within various charities, including the Wildlife Trust and one of the RSPCA’s wildlife hospitals.