THRILL seekers in East Lancashire are putting themselves at risk by balancing on ropes 20 feet above the ground.
Police said the tightrope-like walking craze was ‘an accident waiting to happen’ as youths tied the rope to trees in parks and attempted to walk across as part of a skill known as ‘slacklining’.
As well as putting themselves in danger council bosses said they are also concerned trees are being damaged as people are using branches that are either too young or too frail to cope with the weight.
Pendle has become a particular hotspot for the sport, with slacklines spotted in numerous parks.
PC Nigel Keates said the activity needed to be carried out in the right environment to ensure lives were not in danger.
“We’re not the fun police,” he said. “I used to do this and teach it myself a number of years ago, it teaches balance and good skills but it has to be done in the right place, at the right time, in the right way.
“We were contacted by Pendle Council who said a number of trees in local parks had been damaged and some broken because of this activity.
“They were finding ropes tied to trees all over the place, and said they even found one that was 20 foot in the air.
“If people are doing this 20 foot in the air then it is an accident waiting to happen. If you fall from 20 feet then you are going to hurt yourself and there will be serious injuries.”
Councillors are now urging young people to be responsible and to think before putting themselves in danger.
Blackburn with Darwen Councillor Paul Browne said: “I think people that would do this are absolutely bonkers.
“They are putting their own lives at risk, and it’s stupid because the emergency services will have to deal with them if they have any accidents, and they are stretched enough as it is.
“As a tree lover, I think it’s not on, because they could damage them.”
Pendle Council’s portfolio holder for parks, Coun Nadeem Ahmed, said: “The people who are carrying out these activities are putting themselves at risk and in danger of injuring themselves.
“They are also causing a nuisance in our parks, damaging the trees and I would ask the young people doing this to stop.”
Burnley councillor David Heginbotham said: “ It’s pure stupidity. It’s like these people who jump from 25 feet into water, why put yourselves in danger?
“If people want to rake a risk then join the army. Don’t do this sort of thing.”
Oswaldtwistle Coun Peter Britcliffe, added: “This is a very dangerous practice. People who do it risk hurting themselves.
“Equally, some of the tree branches in our area are very old and they risk damaging them.”
Slacklining has been around for a number of years and there are official clubs that provide supervised events for people.
One of those groups is the Outdoor Trip Slackers, based in Preston, who provide weekly outings across Lancashire.
On their Facebook they said: “Slacklining is becoming increasingly popular across the UK with the creation of new tricks and people going to new heights.
“The slacklining world is still very small but becoming increasingly popular in the UK. Each year there are various events and competitions that we hope to join.”
Police said they encouraged people to join in with the fun if it was done in an organised and safe manner.
“We don’t want to put a stop to this,” said PC Keates. “But as with everything it needs to be done responsibly.
“People can get carried away and they don’t see the dangers. Once they’ve done it low down a couple of times they will increase the risk, and that is when it becomes dangerous.
“There is obviously a lot of people who enjoy it in this area, and that is great. What we would really like to see is people doing it in a controlled environment.
“There are clubs that exist so why not set one up in Pendle if you are passionate about it?
“Put posts in the ground so you don’t damage trees and can’t take it to extremes. Talk to the council and get something safe set up.”