NEW MILTON councillors are pedalling ahead with a bid to find a more suitable site for a permanent BMX track after thousands of pounds of damage was caused to local woodland by youngsters to create ramps.
A call for action to be taken had been made by amenities committee chairman Cllr Geoffrey Blunden earlier this year after members heard trees had been felled and soil excavated by some of the riders using Long Meadow Copse, off Meadow Way in Barton.
As reported in the A&T, small willow trees had been cut down and even some mature trees were damaged, while land was dug up to build mounds of earth (pictured). An early estimate of around £4,000 was given as the cost to restore the site.
Following previous comments that a minority had spoiled things for BMX riders who had used the site for years, it was suggested an alternative location be found.
But some committee members could not see why local BMX riders should be forced to use somewhere else.
Cllr Christine Ward said: “As far as I’m concerned, they’ve already found the perfect space, and that is Long Meadow.”
“I feel very strongly that we are not allowing the young people of this town to use Long Meadow.
“I want to see more young children and less dogs. I know there’s been a lot of talk of badger setts, but I think they are more at threat from dogs than young children.”
Cllr David Hawkins emphasised the point that until recently Long Meadow had been used for BMX riding for many years without problems reported. He argued a proper track could be installed there and riders told to use it and not make their own.
Cllr Steve Davies agreed, saying: “The young folk have already found their own space. I certainly cannot see a central location being available for such use.”
Cllr Robert Murrow was among those who were not against having a BMX track in the area but felt Long Meadow was the wrong place.
“I don’t think Long Meadow is suitable with all the problems it has had,” Cllr Murrow said.
However, commenting that “valid points” had been raised for both sides of the argument, Cllr Alvin Reid believed a working party should be appointed to review all options.
Cllr Blunden maintained that “starting with a blank sheet of paper” was the best option and stressed the town council would have to open up a consultation to all users of any potential site.
“Undoubtedly, wherever we end up, we will have to talk to stakeholders and locals,” he said.
The chairman explained it was hoped any permanent BMX track would be shaped from the existing ground structure, rather than through the installation of concrete and metal.
Members wishing to join the working party to look into finding an appropriate site were invited to register with town clerk Graham Flexman.