Headlines: March 14th, 2006

Local authorities are being urged to adopt a three-point plan to deal with the growing problem of mini-motorbikes after new figures showed a twenty-fold increase in the number of them since 2001. The Local Government Association, which is behind the call, says laws controlling use of the machines are being flouted.The LGA says there are now 144,000 mini-motorbikes in this country and there have already been four deaths in accidents where they have been cited as the cause. The bikes can reach 40 miles an hour and the LGA is also concerned that many of them breach acceptable noise levels. The law prohibits their use on public land but the LGA says that is frequently ignored by riders.

The three-point plan calls on councils to work with the police to seize and crush bikes that are driven illegally and to seek to serve Anti-Social behaviour Orders and noise notices on persistent offenders. It also urges authorities to look at setting up managed sites where bikes can be driven legally and safely and to ensure that the machines are advertised appropriately.

Alison King, who chairs the LGA’s Children & Young People board, said the bikes were blighting people’s lives, tearing up public parks and even causing road deaths. She said councils and the police would seize and crush bikes driven on public land and take action against those who continually flouted the law. “However, along with the stick comes the carrot, and local authorities should look into providing safely monitored race tracks, similar to BMX parks. Young people would be allowed to ride mini-bikes safely and without causing a nuisance to local people,” she added.

A number of councils have already got tough over the use of the mini-bikes. In Coventry, where one in ten of calls to an anti-social behaviour hotline in the run up to Christmas was about the machines, 80 bikes have been seized and the wreckage from them has been distributed around the city. Southwark Council is turning crushed mini-bikes into street furniture and 81 have been seized by Nottingham Council. Swansea Council is proposing to open the first off-road motorbike track in Wales to combat the problem of scrambling.