Ashbourne News Telegraph

Mountain bike trails on agenda for public beauty spot

- By Gareth Butterfiel­d gareth.butterfiel­d@ashbournen­ewstelegra­

TOWN councillor­s were due to meet last night to discuss a proposal to create managed mountain bike trails in Bradley Wood.

The council’s Environmen­t Committee invited Stuart Mcleod, of Tutbury Hollow, to speak about his idea of fabricatin­g official trails, jumps and obstacles in the publiclyow­ned beauty spot after almost dismissing it at a meeting earlier in the summer.

Ahead of last night’s meeting, which took place after the News Telegraph went to press, the town council contacted

Broxtowe Borough Council, which has previously worked with Mr Mcleod on a similar woodland project, to ask how its scheme has done.

Mr Mcleod told the town council, in his initial approach to them earlier this year, he had helped Broxtowe councillor­s to create official trails in Hemlock Stone, after he and a group of riders became frustrated by the number of poorly constructe­d trails an obstacles being unofficial­ly created by mountain bikers.

He explained that the joint project to engineer proper jumps and trails in the wood led to the formation of the hugely popular Hemlock Trail Associatio­n, which is enjoyed by a large number of mountain bikers.

Now living in Ashbourne, he explained to town councillor­s here that Bradley Wood urgently needs proper trails and obstacles making so the cyclists that use it can do so safely, and to ensure they can carry on their activities alongside walkers.

In a response to Ashbourne Town Council, circulated ahead of last night’s meeting, Broxtowe Borough Council outlined the advantages and disadvanta­ges of giving over some of its nature reserve to mountain bikers.

Its reply said: “The main positive of the biking area is that it has attracted new users to the area and has generated a community feel from all age ranges.

“The main negative is the health and safety aspect, although there has been no accident reports there is always a risk that a biker will collide with another biker, or, worse, another user of the area, i.e, a walker.

“We erected signs around the site to make other users aware of the trails.

“I have heard of a couple of accidents that required medical assistance, these were from riders that crashed or fell off their bikes, and there have been no collisions that I’m aware of.

“The trails are well-used and mountain bikers do all the repairs at no cost to the council.

“The site, on the whole, is kept tidy with minimal litter, and the majority of bikers respect the environmen­t. Minimal anti-social behaviour reports.”

Ashbourne Town Council has managed Bradley Wood for decades, since it was donated to the town in perpetuity, and has gone to great lengths to keep motorcylis­ts out of the wood and to minimise the damage that has been caused by two-wheeled thrill-seekers.

But in recent years there has been a significan­t increase in vandalism around the town, with many suggesting that, especially since the closure of the town’s skate park, there is little else for youngsters to do.

According to the environmen­t committee’s agenda, the town councillor­s were due to hear from Mr Mcleod and then consider the response from Broxtowe Borough Council. Although it is possible no decision would have been made on the night.

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