Naughty 'flashing' gnome is a no-no

A NAUGHTY gnome is causing quite a stir in a peaceful Nidderdale village!

The owner of the novelty garden ornament, which has been 'flashing' at passers-by in Dacre Banks, has been told to remove it or she could face prosecution.

The gnome has been vandalised, the police have been spotted taking photos of it for evidence and complaints have been made to the local parish council in an escalating row over the pint-sized flasher's modesty.

But owner Karen Windass, 42, is up in arms after being told to cover up the gnome or face prosecution.

"I'm really angry that I have to move it. Everyone thinks this gnome is funny. I've seen little old ladies stood giggling away at the fence," she said.

"If somebody had come and knocked on the door about it, then I would have moved it – but to go through the police.

"I'm going to cover it up with a fig leaf and put it back."

The saga began three years ago when Karen bought the gnome as a holiday novelty. She placed it in her front garden, where summer plants and flowers shielded its nether regions from public view. When winter came, however, it left them exposed.

About one year ago, Karen returned home from the pub with partner Dan Hardcastle to find the gnome's feet knocked off.

"It could have been the wind," she said, "but you never know."

At the end of last year, Dacre parish councillor Ann Kent received a complaint from a villager.

"Someone complained to me and to the church and asked for something to be done," she said.

"But we said that, as a parish council, it wasn't really in our remit, so eventually they put a complaint in with the police.

"People can be upset by these things but most people are very broad-minded these days. It is not doing too much damage, I think. But if she's going to cover it up, that keeps me happy."

Karen was alerted to the complaint early last month by Pateley Bridge Community Beat Officer Dave Tetley.

PC Tetley said: "A complaint was received by us of an obscene garden gnome which was on public display in Dacre Banks.

"I mentioned it to Ms Windass and I pointed out that it was apparently causing offence."

About a week later, Karen's son Neil Moore, 19, spotted police taking a photograph of the gnome for evidence purposes.

One week after that, PC Tetley knocked on Karen's door after receiving a second complaint.

"Dan asked if we could just turn it round so it wasn't facing the road, but PC Tetley told me if I didn't move it we might be prosecuted, so we had to take it out the back."

The half-nude gnome may be an offence under the Indecent Displays (Control) Act 1981, which exists to prevent the display of matter which would cause offence or distress to the public at large. If Karen had not removed it, the story could have ended in court.

"I think it's ridiculous," said Karen's sister, Michelle Campbell. “What about in cities where you have these statues with their bits out? Naked ladies, bodies wound round each other. A lot of the time when you put the telly on, no matter what time of day, there are women’s breasts.

“And billboards, posters, newspapers – I don’t believe you can drive anywhere in one day without seeing something that you might find offensive.

“In this day and age there is just so much filth around. But a little flashing gnome is just supposed to be fun.”

PC Tetley said although he could see the matter “has some element of humour”, they had nonetheless received “serious” complaints that the gnome was causing distress.

“The reportee was serious about the distress and offence it was causing so obviously it has to be taken seriously by us,” he said.

“Ms Windass was told to move it under threat of possible prosecution, and the best solution is that it remains out of public view.”

Although Karen is keen to keep the matter out of court, she remains defiant.

“If it’s covered up there’s nothing they can do about it,” she said.

“I’m going to get a metal fig leaf made, paint it green and stick in on the gnome.

“Then it’s going back in garden.”

tom.hay@ypn.co.uk