The Friends of Burdiehouse Burn Valley Park is a small but active organisation of enthusiastic volunteers which helps the council look after and improve the area.
Last summer a young mum had to take drastic action to avoid her son being injured as two youngsters on quad bikes raced through the park, which is one of Edinburgh’s finest green spaces and a haven for people and wildlife. However, the peace is too often shattered by the roar of dangerous bikes.
The incident provoked an immediate response from the Friends of Burdiehouse Burn and a Ban the Bikes campaign was launched. Residents were encouraged to report incidents on the non-emergency police 101 number.
There was a response from the police, but it wasn’t particularly effective. Undeterred, the Friends group was determined to keep up the pressure and maintain the campaign through the winter and this year started with immediate and positive action.
Before the holidays were over a youth caught biking in the park was arrested and a significant fine was imposed. Since then there has been regular action taken by the police.
That has yielded even more positive results with regular patrols in the park linked to the use of a CCTV van. This has led to more culprits being identified and charged. Fifteen motorbikes – many stolen – have been confiscated and a cache of bikes hidden in the Edmonstone area, but often used on the park, was identified and shut down.
Crime prevention advice has been given to businesses where bikes have been stolen, and Cameron Toll shopping centre has hosted crime prevention sessions.
Better still, the police have been excellent at reporting back on the action each month. Calls to the police have gone down and contact with our Friends group has also declined. There are still youngsters biking – two incidents were seen in the last week by members of the Friends group – but the police are to be commended for some excellent work and for feeding back what they have been doing to the community.
I have not been a fan of Police Scotland so far. It has seemed ineffective and remote, but in tackling illegal and dangerous biking this year Police Scotland officers deserve high praise for some very effective action.
We intend to keep working with the police until the park is a peaceful haven where residents can enjoy themselves without the fear of illegal and dangerous biking. The police’s and the Friends’ campaigns will continue. So bikers beware, carry on and at some point you will be caught.
Donald Anderson is chair of Friends of Burdiehouse Burn Valley Park.