THE open roads of Weardale have become a racetrack since lockdown rules have eased, according to local residents.

Road had been quiet since the Government announced only essential travel was permitted, but in the last week people who call the dale home have been angered by motorcyclists riding dangerously on the country roads.

One resident of St John’s Chapel, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “Weardale has been inundated by motorcyclists, walkers and cyclists since the relaxation of lockdown, especially at the weekend.

“We have had abuse, local shops and those queuing to enter the Co-op in St. John’s Chapel have had problems with motorcyclists congregating and ignoring social distancing.

"Outside in the garden we have heard and seen motorcyclists racing between Ireshopeburn and Wearhead every few minutes.”

Brenda Stobart, from Eastgate, said: “People are not taking the roads seriously, we don’t mind bikers up here but they are breaking the speed limit and treating the roads like a race track.

“You can hear them from miles off and the buildings vibrate as they pass.

“They slow down in built up areas but they are not going 30 miles per hour.”

Durham Police are aware of the complaints and say they will continue to monitor the roads in Weardale. Officers have assured councillors that they will be putting more resources into Weardale.

Durham Constabulary are also taking part in a national speeding campaign this week led by the NPCC to help prevent speeding.

Durham County Councillor for Weardale, John Shuttleworth said: “Weardale people are very tolerant of people travelling through the Dale, and few complain.

“However, since the relaxing of ‘lockdown’ rules, the weekend motor bikers have treated this valley like their own personal racetrack, and that’s something that is not going to be tolerated.

“Their attitude towards the roads is a disgrace.

“Usually we would welcome bikers, but not in the current situation.”

Fellow county councillor, Anita Savoury said: “Over the weekend many visitors arrived and passed through Weardale there were several times social distancing was not adhered to, thus putting others at a greater risk.

“Weardale will welcome visitors when it is safe to do so.

"Here in Weardale we have made sacrifices, distancing ourselves from family, friends and neighbours, many businesses have closed, annual events have been cancelled all in the interests of safety.

“In Weardale we are taking the necessary steps to reduce risk and keep communities safe – please do not add danger to those measures.”