Mansfield: Off-roaders set to be banned from The Desert in new council Order

Mansfield District Council is proposing to ban people from using off-road vehicles and motorcycles on a piece of publicly accessible land in the district known as The Desert.

Friday, 17th June 2022, 1:12 pm
Updated Friday, 17th June 2022, 1:12 pm

The council has begun a 30-day public consultation on renewing the area's Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO), and banning off-roaders from The Desert, off Eakring Road, near Forest Town, is the main change being proposed.

The questionnaire seeking local views can be filled in on the council's website here.

For years, the trails and paths through The Desert, on the edge of Sherwood Forest, have been a favourite spot for hikers and dog walkers.

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But there have been on-going issues with off-road vehicles and motorcyclists using the sandy rough ground in this area and putting the safety of those on foot at risk.

Coun Marion Bradshaw (Lab), portfolio holder for safer communities, housing and wellbeing, said: "The reckless behaviour of off-roaders at The Desert has been a cause of concern for some time and the landowner and police are fully supportive of the council's proposal to include it in the PSPO when it is renewed.

"We work closely with our partners to assess the use of this PSPO and its current relevance, and to consider if any changes are necessary.

"The issue of motorised off-road vehicles whizzing round at The Desert was felt should be included in any new Order.

“As well as being an obvious danger to people on foot, these vehicles also cause much danger and disturbance to flora and fauna, including ground nesting birds, in what could be one of this district’s most valuable natural assets – if it was given a chance to thrive.

“The powers bestowed on local authorities via a PSPO allow councils to tackle particular nuisances in an area to help ensure that the law abiding majority can use and enjoy public spaces safely, free from anti-social behaviour (ASB).

"It must be proven that such ASB is detrimental to local communities and affects their quality of life before any enactment can take place and that the powers in a PSPO are appropriate and proportionate.

"Therefore we would like to hear from local people about what they consider is appropriate before we renew this order."

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Sergeant Neil Priestley, of Nottinghamshire Police, added: “The Desert is a beautiful natural space that has traditionally been popular with walkers.

“Sadly, in recent years it has become a go-to destination for off-road motorcycles.

"The people who ride and drive vehicles illegally in our green spaces are not only antisocial, they are also a danger to other people and to themselves.

“We are aware of several close calls where people riding at speed along nearby footpaths have come dangerously close to pedestrians and I fear it is only a matter of time before somebody is hurt.

“Off-road vehicles are simply not allowed to be on The Desert, or on the various footpaths and bridleways in the surrounding area.

"We regularly carry out proactive policing operations in the area where we remove people from the area, fine riders and seize bikes and vehicles.

“The imposition of a PSPO would give us additional powers to tackle these individuals and protect this special area of Mansfield for future generations.”

The current Order is due for renewal in August, having been in place since 2019.

This was created from alterations to a previous PSPO first enacted in 2016.

The new Order, as well as banning motorised vehicles from being driven in certain defined areas of the district, is set to contain most of its initial offences.

These include drinking alcohol or begging in public places, clearing up after dogs, and cycling through pedestrianised areas in the town centre at certain times.

It also allows groups to be dispersed if they are causing (or are likely to cause) nuisance, alarm, harassment or distress to any other person in the town centre.

Anyone who fails to meet the requirements of the order or comply with a request from a police office, a police community support officer (PCSO) or authorised council officer, could receive a £100 fixed penalty notice or be prosecuted.

The PSPO aligns with council priorities for place and wellbeing which aim to ensure the district is a flourishing place where people are healthy and happy and are proud of where they live.