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Opinion: Action On The Wisley Airfield Biker Problem Should Be Prioritised

Motorbiker on the former Wisley Airfield

By Julie Iles

Conservative county councillor for The Horsleys

This Sunday (January 7, 2017), like so many others, has seen the lives of residents living close to the former Wisley Airfield disrupted by noise from motorcycle and quad vehicle racing.

However, this week was particularly bad with around 20 vans parked up along the length of Elm Lane so it became virtually impassable and residents were physically threatened.

I have been trying to sort this problem out since I was elected to Surrey County Council (SCC) last May. It’s complicated by the fact that so many organisations need to work together and of course that makes it all too easy to blame someone else.

Photo, taken in April 2017, shows an access
point at the former Wisley Airfield through
which motorcyclists were able to enter.

Surrey Wildlife Trust has been helpful in putting up signs to deter access and they are working with us at the county council to see if we can install a form of natural barrier to prevent people parking off road in the woods and in the passing places. Guildford Borough Council (GBC) have installed restricted zone signs so that enforcement action on parking can be taken.

The county council’s countryside access team have removed debris, which the bikes used as ramps to gain access over the current horse stile, but sadly there is still too much rubble available in the vicinity so new ones are simply re-installed. When the winter weather allows the markings on the airfield, which denote the public rights of way, will be refreshed.

It is an offence under the road traffic act for a motorised vehicle to be on the bridleway or footpath and the police have confirmed that this will assist with enforcement.

Surrey Police feel that their response is proportionate and of course, no one would expect them to have officers stationed across the area on a permanent basis.

It is, though, a source of great frustration for local residents who call the contact centre and time after time they are told that this is private land and therefore not a police matter, or that the noise from the bikes is a matter for the environmental health team at GBC.

The residents have no direct contact with the agent for the landowner and therefore I pursue them to install signs indicating this is private land with no access for vehicles. These are removed by the trespassers almost as soon as they are put up and it takes far too long to replace them.

If anyone takes the view that this is low-level anti-social behaviour I invite them to go along to the site and see for themselves just how bad the noise nuisance is. If you do so, don’t make the mistake of following previous police advice to take photos of the vehicles because then you will incur an aggressive response from these bikers.

As I write, I wait for news from my pleading the case for action at a meeting of the Guildford Safer Partnerships Team early in November. I am working with Cllr Colin Cross [Lib Dem borough councillor for Lovelace] and have asked that action from the Joint Enforcement Team is prioritised here.

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14 Responses to Opinion: Action On The Wisley Airfield Biker Problem Should Be Prioritised

  1. Martin Elliott Reply

    January 7, 2018 at 10:50 pm

    Perhaps Julie Ilse could clarify what actions are/have been taken by those named as the first point of call. She says these are the landowner and GBC Environmental Health Team?

    All she has mentioned is prohibition signs by the landowner but no information on the GBC response.

    • Julie Iles Reply

      January 8, 2018 at 5:03 pm

      GBC has a number of responsibilities for enforcement here including parking infringement and noise nuisance.

      It is my hope that the Joint Enforcement Team will prioritise this for action and I await an update from the GBC Councillor for this area, Colin Cross.

      Julie Iles is the Conservative county councillor for The Horsleys.

      • Martin Elliott Reply

        January 9, 2018 at 7:00 pm

        But you say you met with them two and a half months ago.

        You still don’t know what they could or are willing to do?

        Seems GBC is about as responsive as SCC to residents’ concerns.

  2. Simon Bisson Reply

    January 7, 2018 at 10:57 pm

    I’m sure it would be far far better if this became a controlled biker playground rather than 2000 houses. Your call.

  3. Adam Aaronson Reply

    January 8, 2018 at 8:43 am

    “Signs removed by the trespassers”. “Trespassers build access ramps from rubble”.

    “no one would expect them (police) to have officers stationed across the area on a permanent basis”

    “don’t make the mistake of following previous police advice to take photos of the vehicles because then you will incur an aggressive response”

    It seems that the most sensible thing would be to install surveillance cameras. Cue usual arguments about who will be responsible for funding!

  4. Paul Robinson Reply

    January 8, 2018 at 2:43 pm

    I bet it is still quieter that Vickers Valiant’s, Vickers VC10’s & BAC One-Eleven’s taking off.

    They flew on Saturdays and Sundays, on occasions.

  5. Tony Edwards Reply

    January 8, 2018 at 5:01 pm

    The onus for securing and protecting private land with public access must surely rest with the land owner. In this instance that would be Wisley Property Investments Ltd, the Cayman Islands company represented in the UK by Michael Murray who seems unable or unwilling to take positive action to quell this anti-social behaviour.

  6. Diane South Reply

    January 9, 2018 at 7:26 am

    Can’t the police be called at the time it’s going on, to arrest the offenders?

  7. Susan Jones Reply

    January 9, 2018 at 12:10 pm

    “If anyone takes the view that this is low-level anti-social behaviour I invite them to go along to the site and see for themselves just how bad the noise nuisance is.”

    This is a classic NIMBY attitude. This was a former airfield’ those buying properties there knew there was a potential for noise either via aircraft movement or otherwise. A complimentary pair of ear defenders for each resident seems to be the most cost-effective approach.

    • Dave Middleton Reply

      January 9, 2018 at 1:26 pm

      There’s been no flying at Wisley since 1973.

      The site was sold back to Lord Lytton in 1980, so it is a fallacy that the owners of neighbouring properties should expect aircraft noise.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wisley_Airfield

      The fact is that the activity on the airfield by these anti-social motorcycle users – as a motorcyclist, I refuse to call them motorcyclists – is unlawful under both civil and criminal law and should cease.

      Firm enforcement of the law over a few weekends by police at the site and a simple court injunction obtained by the site owners, would stop the problem in its tracks.

      There are plenty of places throughout the country, where you can lawfully ride off-road if that is your preference and plenty of places where you can lawfully race your motorcycle at speed on race tracks, if that’s your thing.

    • Mike Bamber Reply

      January 11, 2018 at 10:58 am

      I have to disagree, the airfield is disused.

      It cannot accommodate aeroplanes any more.

      If you buy a property nearby then you should not expect noise levels approaching landing aircraft levels.

      You should expect no more noise than the A3 and passing overhead planes.

      To say that you should ‘expect’ huge volumes of motorbike noise as they break the law is simply ludicrous.

  8. Bridget Kendrick Reply

    January 9, 2018 at 1:00 pm

    In response to Simon Bisson.

    The former Wisley Airfield doesn’t need to become anything. It’s just fine as green belt farming land. It just needs the owners, WIPL to engage with SWT, SCC, GBC and the police to effectively stop the trespassing.

    If you were a resident of Elm Corner, as I am, and had to endure all the aggravation, abuse and vandalism that comes with these people using Elm Corner, and I haven’t even mentioned the noise yet, you would not be suggesting it became a “biker playground”.

    Thank you to Cllr Julie Isles, for bringing this to more peoples attention. Her help is greatly appreciated, let’s hope we find a solution.

    • Simon Bisson Reply

      January 10, 2018 at 7:58 pm

      Yes I would. I said controlled. If you would really prefer 2,000 houses that is your choice.

  9. Paul Bishop Reply

    January 12, 2018 at 7:30 am

    I really don’t understand why people move next to airfields and then complain about the noise.

    You should be thankful it’s only a few motorbikes driving around and not aircraft taxiing and taking off!

    The residents around Wisley seem to complain about the regeneration by additional housing and then complain equally that the site is left derelict.

    If they are so precious about controlling the use of the site then they should club together and buy it. That is the only way they will get the control they seem to want over it.

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