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Vandals attack Ilkley's Diamond Jubilee lights
Vandals have caused damage amounting to thousands of pounds to decorative lighting put up just last year to improve Ilkley town centre.
The Jubliee Lights were installed to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012 and were part of a £40,000 spend on all-year round ‘Christmas’ lights along The Grove in Ilkley.
But in the early hours of Saturday morning vandals caused damage to lights in nine trees along The Grove and the bandstand by cutting wires.
An irate resident reported the damage to Ilkley parish councillor and Bradford Council ward member for Ilkley, Mike Gibbons, who organised for Council engineers to attend to make the lights safe.
The damage was also reported to the police, who have vowed to pursue the people responsible for the crime.
Ilkley Parish Council chairman Heathcliffe Bowen said: “We are extremely disappointed that someone has chosen to vandalise the lights. The matter has been reported to the police and it will be pursued with the full force of the law.”
Coun Bowen said he understood the lights were fully functioning at around midnight on Friday and the damage was caused some time in the early hours of Saturday.
“Someone has got up into the trees and cut the wires. It was a trailing wire which alerted residents,” he said.
“If whoever did this is local it is an own goal because it is them or their families who will have to pay to repair or replace the lights.”
Coun Gibbons said it was not clear if the damage was caused by drunken yobs with a knife or someone who has gone out in a determined effort to cause as much damage as possible.
He said: “It is mindless but we will not be deterred. These lights have been a wonderful feature for everyone to enjoy and they will be returned to their original condition for the benefit of local residents.”
He added: “These are our lights and they were not cheap and if anyone saw anything or knows anything we would ask them to come forward.”
Ilkley Parish councillor Rory Marshall, who led the Jubilee Lights scheme, said: “I decided to install lights in the trees in Ilkley last year to improve the town centre in the evenings. My position is voluntary and I devised the scheme to cheer the town up. I was completely overwhelmed by how well received they were not just by Ilkley residents but also by visitors to the town. To discover that somebody decided to destroy much of the display was upsetting.
“Ilkley residents funded the project and should quite rightly be angry about the vandalism to their lighting scheme.
“If anyone would like to contact me personally with any information regarding this please e-mail Rorymarshall@hotmail.co.uk.”
Councillor Val Slater, executive member for transport and highways on Bradford Council, confirmed: “Council workers attended and made safe a number of strings of LED lights that had been vandalised in Ilkley over the weekend.”
Inspector Susan Sanderson, of the Wharfedale and Craven Neighbourhood Policing Team said police were investigating the vandalism.
“These lights were put up last year to enhance the town centre and it is a shame that someone has deliberately damaged them,” she said. “Criminal damage is a serious offence and we will be doing all we can to find the people responsible for this crime.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Wharfedale and Craven Neighbourhood Policing Team on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.