Saffron Walden bike riders fight to save Claypits country trail

A GROUP of BMX and mountain bike riders have won their battle to save a controversial dirt track in Saffron Walden which has been described by one councillor as a “monstrosity”.

Teenagers from Saffron Trails, who built the BMX track in Claypits Plantation, were celebrating after Uttlesford District Council (UDC) approved the site and said it could be re-opened.

Bike rider Jack Ogborn, 18, said: “We’re really pleased that the council is supporting the track which was used regularly by lots of young people in the town.

“We’ve worked hard to build the track and we’re now taking steps to make the site safer. We’ve already raised money to buy signs which will be put up soon.”

Members of the environment committee gave their backing to the bike riders at a meeting on Tuesday night, despite a strong objection from town and district councillor Doug Perry.

He said: “I cannot support the principle of this site as it is tantamount to saying ‘We will do what we want and damn the consequences’. And the bringing of a digger to prepare and expand the site was completely unacceptable.

“I am surprised as to how the track has evolved over time and has become a monstrosity, and for officers to recommend further work is carried out is unbelievable.

Most Read

“The attitude shown by Saffron Trails is unacceptable and the subsequent action of building this site is both unlawful and unjustified.”

The BMX track has been built on land behind Ross Close which is owned by Audley End Estates and currently leased to the council. The landowner has raised no objection to the woodland being used by the BMXers.

In 2005 the council discovered that ramps and ditches had been constructed at the site. When officers revisited the area this year they found the track had been significantly extended to cover an area of more than 1000 sq m.

At a meeting in March the council decided that all BMX riding at the track should stop until after an investigation.

In support of Saffron Trails, Cllr Elizabeth Godwin, said: “They have found something they were interested in and got on and did it without damaging or hurting anybody.”

Cllr Simon Howell agreed. He said: “I would like to commend what Saffron Trails are doing. How they responded to the concerns that were raised by this council in March should be commended. We should encourage and applaud them.”

The council will allow the track to be reopened following the implementation of several health and safety measures.