A POLICE inspector has admitted they could have been better-prepared for huge masses of day-trippers who descended on Ilkley at the weekend.
In the latest town council meeting for Ilkley, Inspector Khalid Khan heard from a number of residents who said they felt "unsafe" after large groups gathered on the riverside, leaving behind bags of rubbish and, in more private locations, drugs cannisters.
The meeting also heard how young people were jumping off the bridge while their parents watched, others were high on drugs as well as claims some groups were not social distancing.
One resident was walking their dog when he had to dodge away from quad bikers while another warned locals are "waiting for an accident to happen".
Others branded the actions of some groups "abominable" while Ed Duguid, chair of Friends Of Ilkley Riverside Parks, said ongoing anti-social problems like these had been "exacerbated" by the covid-19 crisis.
Inspector Khan said: "This is not the first time we've encountered this issue.
"I'm not coming up with any excuses but just with the facts. Last year we never planned for it. There were issues with the volume of people going into Ilkley. There were issues with the traffic coming into Ilkley. We've been working with services and the council. Last year there wasn't one day that wasn't an unproblematic day.
"I'm not sure what the solution is in terms of stopping people coming into Ilkley.
"We got our act together last year. From the police side of it we made sure the resources were in place to deal with it."
In light of the recent issues in Ilkley, Inspector Khan added: "The traffic did become a problem. There was also the issue around Covid regulations and the social distancing and how with the volume of people that do turn up I don't think it would have been possible to enforce. With the lockdown it made it even more difficult to enforce.
"We had to send some of our resources to deal with the Cow and Calf. We admit we could have done things better.
"We did have our youth services on the ground."
On Sunday, in a bid to fix some traffic issues, the force resorted to closing Denton Road using common laws and redirected traffic elsewhere.
But many residents were still worried about the number of cars parking on the side of narrow roads to visit the Cow and Calf while councillor Mike Gibbons (Conservative, Ilkley) said he had concerns about how emergency vehicles would have got through the narrow gap.
Sue Gledhill, ward officer for Keighley and Ilkley representing Bradford Council, said she is working on an unrelased plan in the hopes of fixing these issues in the long-term.
Giving hints at some of the solutions being discussed, the officer talked about opening up Ilkley Lido's car park while it is not in use in a bid to manage traffic.
Another option could be to close the bridge connecting Ilkley riverside and parks to try influence a change in people's habits for good - at risk of affecting routes for residents.
"It can't all be about enforcement," Mrs Gledhill said.
And while the chair of Friends Of Ilkley Riverside Parks was deeply upset by the damage he had a strong message for residents and councillors in the group.
"I have to stress that we do not want to end up demonising young people," Mr Duguid said.
Two 14-year-old boys had actually been down to the park to clean up bags of rubbish left by visitors.
Mr Duguid said the problems seen at the weekend were largely caused by family groups.
He told the meeting: "A lot of things that have gone on have been unacceptable behaviour by young people but there are enough of our families allowing this to go on down there.
"The situation we find ourselves in is not unfamiliar.
"I think the Covid situation has certainly exacerbated the situation and the rules of lockdown."
Meanwhile visitors to Craven’s beauty spots are being urged to take their litter home with them after rubbish was left strewn around the area at the weekend.
Some of the worst affected areas included Malham, Stainforth, Burnsall and Grassington.
Craven District Council’s waste management team has been helping dispose of litter collected by residents where possible.