CRIME concerns have been raised over plans to create a new entrance to a Darlington nature reserve.

Original designs for the Maidendale Nature and Fishing Reserve in Firthmoor featured five entrances but these were not included when new houses were built on the adjoining Moorfield estate.

This left the large reserve with just two entrances; one off Salters Lane bridleway and a second in Redwood Close and now the council wants to create a third off Richmond Way.

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Consultation letters were sent out to more than 200 homes and at a recent Police and Communities Together (Pact) meeting, Moorfield resident Paul Jenner said an extra entrance would exacerbate the crime and anti-social behaviour problems associated with the reserve.

He said: “There will be more motorbikes using it and more underage drinking in the streets leading up to the new entrance.

“The police have a hard enough job catching motorcyclists on there as it is, without giving them an extra escape route.

“I recently reported four motorbikes on the reserve and having another entrance on there won’t help things at all.”

Rob George, Darlington Council’s parks and countryside development manager, said: “There is a bigger argument to improve the difficulties of the reserve.

“When we all put the reserve in we did a lot of work to try and make it less accessible to motorbikes.

“But the history of that area is that it was seen as ok for motorbikes to go there, it was the culture of the town and there is a bit of a legacy of that kind of thinking.”

Darlington’s neighbourhood police team inspector, Mick Button, suggested that the police, Pact attendees and the Maidendale Trust should join together and write to the council’s highways department to ask that the new entrance be built in a way that prevented motorbikes from using it.

He said: “I think it would be folly to put the same gate in when the gate already being used doesn’t stop motorbikes.

“It has to be the highways decision at the end of the day; at worst they will give us a very clever answer as to why they won’t do it.”