Patrols aim to stop damage to Beccles Common

Beccles resident Jill Feathersone who is concerned about the damage being caused to Beccles Common.

Beccles resident Jill Feathersone who is concerned about the damage being caused to Beccles Common. PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

Unauthorised vehicles using land in Beccles are to be targeted as part of measures agreed this week by the town council.

Tyre tracks at Beccles Common. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

Tyre tracks at Beccles Common. PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

At a meeting on Tuesday night, an agreement was made which will see a private company carrying out patrols on the common and taking action against drivers who do not have permission to be there.

The agreement, which has been in the making for some time, comes as a number of residents complained in recent weeks about joy riders driving on to the common and using the area as a race track, damaging large parts of the land.

Jill Featherstone, who lives close to the common, said: 'I am deeply concerned. There should be no vehicles on the common other than in the common car park.'

She said that, in the past, a lockable gate had been in place on the site which prevented cars accessing the land, but this is no longer there meaning some drivers see it as a 'free for all'.

Damage on Beccles Common.

Damage on Beccles Common. - Credit: Archant

The 56-year-old said: 'I've been using the common for 44 years so it means a lot to me and it is such a magical place.

'To watch it deteriorate is terrible.'

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Chairman of the town council's assets and environment committee, Graham Catchpole, said: 'We are going to bring in a company, NPE, which looks after other car parks in the town and will police the common in terms of cars on the common and be able to prosecute those vehicles which do not have prior authorisation to be there.

'We aren't looking to make any money out of this and it is not going to cost us anything beyond the initial signs informing people of the intention to take action and we will publicise it for a month before it comes into force.

'We hope this will stop vehicles that shouldn't be there, from driving on to the land.

'There are obviously interested parties who will be issued with permits to grant them access.'

The council is also examining the possibility of installing surveillance equipment in the area in a bid to identify those breaking the rules.

Mr Catchpole said: 'It's not going to solve the problem of the joy riders but it could act as a deterrent.

'It's not the first time - it happens every now and again, primarily on the dark nights.

'They are vandals and they are damaging the common and it is not acceptable and we'll do everything we can to catch them.'

Beccles mayor Hugh Taylor added: 'The implementation of the new measures is subject to consultation with the interested parties who will be informed about the plans.'

•What do you think? Write to Beccles and Bungay Journal Letters, 20 Blyburgate, Beccles NR34 9TB, including your full name and address or email bbj.letters@archant.co.uk