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Resident Fears Realised Over Motor Bike Nuisance at Former Wisley Airfield

Published on: 18 Apr, 2017
Updated on: 18 Apr, 2017

Warning – this article contains an image of obscene graffiti.

Elm Lane from the air with the A3 top left and the access point featured in preceding photos by the P for parking – image Google Earth

The fears of residents neighbouring the former Wisley Airfield, just off the A3, were realised over the Easter weekend when motor bikers returned to joy ride on and around the old runway.

One resident reported having obscene graffiti spray painted around the gateway to her house.

The Elm corner resident, who did not wish to be named wrote: “…just your usual Easter weekend for us Elm Corner residents, this is what I was greeted with on my return from work yesterday night [see image below]. I reported it to 101. Last year… next door had their gates chained closed.

“There is no doubt the people who come to ride their bikes, blame the residents for the parking tickets and police presence. This has clearly gone beyond a ‘civil’ matter.”

But Surrey police have responded this morning (April 18, 2017) to say that the noise nuisance is an environmental health issue and parking on double yellow lines, which the vehicles that bring the bikes are said to do, has been de-criminalised, so both issues should be managed by Guildford Borough Council.

The spokesperson added that: “…to effectively patrol the airfield, approximately 20-30 officers would be required.”

Cllr Graham Ellwood (Con, Merrow), lead councillor at GBC for community safety, has been invited to comment.

Ockham resident Ben Paton said:  “A number of us have been physically threatened and verbally abused by these motorcyclists at Elm Lane and on the footpaths and bridleways of the former Wisley Airfield over the past two years. On one occasion last year I called 999 when accosted by two bikers.

“But do the police keep records of all these events? Surrey Police has ignored my FOI [Freedom of Information] request asking for details of what it has recorded. ‘Too much work’ seemed to be its excuse.

“The police pass the buck and say that this is an environmental matter that it can delegate to Guildford Borough Council. Has GBC done anything?

Obscene graffiti that greeted on Elm Lane resident on her return home

“There have been a number of instances of criminal damage. For example last year someone with a heavy lorry put chains onto the gate onto the airfield at Elm Lane and pulled it down.

“The bikers are emboldened by  being informed, falsely, by the police that it is a civil matter.

“Only yesterday Surrey Police told me that this was a civil matter that it was for the landlord and that Surrey Police knew all about it – and then put the phone down on me.”

Cllr Bill Barker

The Surrey county councillor for The Horsleys which covers Wisley Airfield, Bill Barker, said: “The police must help more. The motorbikes may be on private land but they are trespassing over rights of way and are causing danger to public and horse riders.

“Surrey County Council cannot really do anymore to secure access to footpaths without restricting horse riders. If horses can access then motorbikes drive through same access.

“The police should warn off culprits, or else! The landowner [Wisley Property Investments Ltd, registered in the Cayman Islands] is not likely to set foot in UK until September when the planning enquiry is heard, if then.

“Let us hear again the police version of why the nuisance persists. Or their take on what more SCC can alone do without police assistance.”

The access point to the disused airfield reported to be used by the joy riders

In a statement given by Surrey Police to The Guildford Dragon News this morning a spokesperson wrote: “Surrey Police is aware of the issues with motorbikes on Wisley Airfield.

“With reference to motorbikes using the airfield – the airfield is private property, and although the landowner has not given permission for the bikes to be there, it is not a matter that police can deal with. This would be classed as trespass, and consequently a civil matter. It is down to the landowner to ensure that their site is secure and motorbikes cannot access the site to indulge in anti-social behaviour.

“Noise from the motorbikes – this is an Environmental Health matter and complaints should be directed to Guildford Borough Council.

“Motorbikes using bridleways and footpaths – it is an offence under section 34(1)(b) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and Schedule 2 to the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 to drive a mechanically propelled vehicle on a footpath, bridleway or restricted byway. A Section 59 warning can also be given, if the above offence is being committed and the driver is causing alarm, distress or annoyance to the public.

One of the vehicles, believed to have brought motor bikes to the former Wisley Airfield, parked in Elm Lane

“The vans arriving do not necessarily constitute an offence as they pull up on Elm Corner, which isn’t a footpath, bridleway or restricted byway. Parking on double yellow lines has been decriminalised and needs to be dealt with by Guildford Borough Council. Surrey Police can only give tickets for wilful or unnecessary obstruction.

“Surrey Police will continue to visit the airfield as part of their normal patrols but this will always be operationally dependent. It has been estimated that to effectively patrol the airfield, approximately 20-30 officers would be required.

“If any offences are disclosed to Surrey Police by local residents and/or the motorcyclists then they will be recorded, investigated and the appropriate action taken.

“Surrey Police is also considering an option to issue warning notices/letters to vehicles that attend the location but this is still in its infancy at this time.”

Cllr Colin Cross (Lib Dem) whose Lovelace ward includes Wisley Airfield said: “The residents of Elm Corner have been hung out to dry by the police and the related authorities for several months now due to the general unwillingness or inability to get to grips with this lawless behaviour and ongoing illegal activities.

“All requests to the police have met with a blanket refusal to act, whilst using the untrue defence that this is private land and thus an entirely civil matter.

“These hooligans are acting illegally by dangerously indulging in all-day motorcycle rallying across and up and down a number of clearly designated public footpaths.

“There are current laws that cover such actions but for whatever reason, Surrey Police will not enforce them. I am not entirely exonerating the land owner in this matter but consider that this is now primarily a matter of law enforcement, or the lack of it.

“It’s a disgrace and there should be a public enquiry as to why this is allowed to continue.”

Mike Murray, Project Director for Wisley Property Investments said: “Wisley Property Investments has been actively liaising with the police and Surrey County Council over the last two years to address the issue.

“We agreed a number of preventative measures with them and these have all been implemented. These include placing a steel beam across the Elm Lane entrance, erecting palisade fencing, introducing additional signing, working with police to enforce parking restrictions and creating earth mounds along the runway to discourage its use. We have also been in contact with groups to warn them that the site is private property.

“We will continue to work with the police and the County Council to address the issue in the future.”

See also: Motor Bike Invasion Feared By Wisley Airfield Neighbours

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Responses to Resident Fears Realised Over Motor Bike Nuisance at Former Wisley Airfield

  1. Dave Middleton Reply

    April 18, 2017 at 3:52 pm

    This lack of action by Surrey Police in respect of the offences committed by this group of people on motorcycles (I won’t dignify them by calling them Motorcyclists), is frankly appalling.

    My letter to The Guildford Dragon detailed a number of offences that could be applied and enforced to deal with this matter.

    Perhaps it’s time for the residents affected by this anti-social behaviour to demand a meeting with the chief constable and an explanation from him.

  2. C Barker Reply

    April 20, 2017 at 12:20 pm

    With that particular offensive word you would have thought it would at least be appropriate to blur the middle letters out before posting, I think the majority of readers can guess what it says. Children can access this news site.

    I did carefully consider whether to blur the image as suggested but I felt it important to portray the shocking offensiveness of what had happened. Not many children read The Guildford Dragon and the same word can be accessed, even via the BBC’s iPlayer. I did place a warning at the beginning of the story and only printed one of the images sent to us. Nonetheless, I am sorry if you and some other readers felt it inappropriate but I still feel it was the right decision and that complaints should be levelled against those who painted the word. Ed

    • Harry Eve Reply

      April 20, 2017 at 12:33 pm

      Children can, I assume, also pass by the graffiti in question – probably on a walk in the countryside with their family. The culprits here are the vandals – and the government, for continuing to cut down the police service to the point where it can no longer deal with this sort of anarchy.

      May 4th and June 8th present two opportunities for change for the better.

    • Ben Paton Reply

      April 20, 2017 at 2:36 pm

      Children deserve protection. But then so do the residents of Elm Corner. And the public should be aware of the foreseeable consequences of Surrey Police’s failure to grasp this nettle.

      It is said: “With reference to motorbikes using the airfield – … it is not a matter that police can deal with.”

      This statement is a charter for jobsworths. What are the police trained to do? Enforce the law? Make arrests? Or pass the buck? If not the police, who is supposed to deal with this? It would be more accurate to say that this is not a matter that Surrey Police is able to deal with.

  3. Paul Bishop Reply

    April 21, 2017 at 7:13 am

    In the grand scheme of things this is a pretty low-level issue which, I suspect, has been made worse by the attitudes of the residents to the people using the airfield. I don’t for a second believe that the graffiti was randomly done, I strongly suspect there is some of the story we are missing and it was some kind of retaliation to actions taken by the locals. And I’m sure the police will take the vandalism act seriously and investigate as required – there’s no mention in the article what the polices response to the incident was.

    The fundamental issues that are being complained about ie parking and the noise pollution, are rightly very low down the polices priority list. In fact, based on the pictures the parking issue seems non existent and as for the noise pollution, well you live next to an airfield. Some engine noise should be expected. Neighbours are lucky thet’re not using it for fully organised track days, like so many others are.

    The residents of Guildford do amaze me at times. There’s huge resistance to put homes on Wisley (let’s not get into that discussion) but then there are complaints that the massive empty airfield is attracting the wrong people. They can’t have it both ways. They live next to an airfield, and should stop acting like it’s beautiful unspoilt fields. The place is an eyesore, the sooner something useful is done with it the better for everyone.

    • Ben Paton Reply

      April 23, 2017 at 8:46 pm

      Approximately 25% of the site is the former runway. The remainder is farmed arable land.
      It has never been a commercial airfield or an RAF base. It was leased to Vickers during and after WW2 to fly out planes being built in Brooklands.
      It is not an eyesore. None of it rises above ground level. It cannot be seen until one is almost walking on it.
      It is not suitable for modern jet aeroplanes as the runway is far too short: less than half the length of the runways at Heathrows. There was a long public inquiry in 1981 on the question of whether it was a suitable site for a private airfield and the planning application was refused.
      It is a disgrace that Mr Bishop should insinuate that the victims of this lawlessness should have done anything whatsoever to deserve it. He appears to condone criminal damage to private property and physical violence to women.

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