The Big Baps Cafe off the M62 hasn’t been far from the news recently. Owners of the roadside cafe say their business has been blighted by ‘men from Manchester’ visiting the layby for ‘dogging parties.’
Amanda Bissett, who runs the popular cafe in a layby just of the motorway at Brighouse says the goings on at the ‘public sex hotspot’ nearby are costing her £ 100 a week in takings.
She and her business partner, Sharon Wherrett said they are seeing ‘two or three doggers’ every morning as they are serving lorry drivers their breakfast. They’ve since called on the local council to introduce parking restrictions.
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Last week, Yorkshire Live spent an hour at the ‘sex hotspot’ next to Big Baps cafe to see what happened. This is what reporter Andrew Robinson said he saw.
It’s 11.40 on Thursday morning, the sun is shining and I’ve already spotted a Durex lube wrapper flapping in the gentle breeze.
After parking up near the Big Baps cafe, the first thing I notice are several piles of old tires, dumped in a wooded area behind a fence, and everywhere there is ‘sex litter’, evidence that this location is popular with people who are into al fresco sex.
The area, just off the M62 at Brighouse, is a bit of a fly-tipping hotspot, with people using it to dump all manner of rubbish, from gas bottles to fridges. A lorry driver from North Wales pulls over, telling me he likes to visit Big Baps cafe every Thursday as a treat.
He’s too hungry to say much, but jokes about the layby and its reputation. “Ha, ha,” he laughs. “I don’t even get sex at home.” With that bombshell, he pops into Big Baps for his butty di lui.
Minutes later, I chat to a man in big green wellies who emerges onto the roadside from the direction of a nearby fishing lake. “I am just an angler,” he says. “I stick to the riverside. I see the odd person walking about; I keep myself to myself. I have never seen anything.”
He informs me that he has “just put some bait out” which I assume is angling chat and not a euphemism. He drives off and before long I am in conversation with a man from Barnsley who is munching on a £ 3.50 cheeseburger from Big Baps.
He cannot fathom why folk are so into sex in public places. “It don’t make sense to me. It’s next to a public road. The litter is very bad, it’s disgusting.”
Just after noon, Sharon Wherrett, co-owner of Big Baps at Junction 25, pops out to say hello and to do some rubbish-picking outside her premises. There’s a lot of litter and she’s a bit fed up because it hasn’t got anything to do with the cafe, she says.
Picking up the bits of paper with a plastic grabber, she says: “I have got to do it, I have no choice. I don’t like doing it. I clean around the cafe because they (the council) won’t pick it up.
“I don’t want to encourage rats. This is not our rubbish.” Her husband di lei once helped pick up litter at the back of the cafe and ended up with enough discarded “sex toys” to fill a bag, she reveals.
Today, at around 9am, she saw two men “nip down into the bushes”, but generally, it is a quiet day – but she’s expecting things to get busier. “Once the warmer weather comes ….” she adds.
At 12.39pm I spy a balding, middle-aged man in a gray top. He’s among the foliage, just off the layby, fully clothed and obviously waiting, or looking, for someone.
He slips and slides on the mud, disappears for five minutes, pops up, and is gone again. I might have asked him where he is from and what he is doing but don’t get the opportunity.
I walk past a Polish-registered Renault van, parked up with a man fast asleep across the front seats. It’s not an ideal place for a kip with the noisy traffic screaming by, but it’s free parking and there’s a cafe with hot drinks and snacks.
At 12.45, a woman from Mirfield stops to chat. “Are you doing a survey?” she inquires. After I explain who I am, she says: “I do feel for the ladies [in the cafe] who see it every day.
“My husband saw a man who ran out (of the woodland near the layby) who was totally naked. He ran into traffic covering his bits. It happened during the day. It was just odd.”
Back in the cafe, Sharon is chatting with her daughter, Fiona. They say that people have been meeting in the woodland behind the cafe for a number of years, but previously it was mostly after dark.
Sharon says: “It carries on now during the day. That’s when it became a problem. My daughter once saw a man with his genitals out.”
The cafe’s owners have been campaigning for a two-hour parking restriction at the layby so that their customers have more chance of getting a space. However, Calderdale Council has ruled this out.
Sharon says: “Drivers come in and [tell us] they have been trying to pull in [the layby] all week but couldn’t because of the cars. It’s soul-destroying and places like this [cafe] can’t sustain it. “