Mountain bikers who built ramps at Northampton park accused of 'vandalism' by borough council

More than 300 people have signed a petition after a series of jumps used by mountain bikers in Northampton were flattened by the borough council.

Tuesday, 12th March 2019, 3:59 pm
Updated Wednesday, 13th March 2019, 10:30 am
Council workers 'restore' the land in Cherry Orchard Wood to its previous appearance

A group who use Cherry Orchard Park near Hardingstone built the ramps and maintained them over several years by digging up the land to allow them and others to enhance their skills.

But Northampton Borough Council, which owns the park, has now undone their work by flattening the ground again with a mini JCB, and accused those responsible of being dangerous vandals.

A spokeswoman for Northampton Borough Council said it had levelled out a large number of "ruts, drops and ditches" after recent complaints from parents and dogwalkers.

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Council workers 'restore' the land in Cherry Orchard Wood to its previous appearance

She said: “The wooded area is part of borough council-owned parkland, intended for recreation and appropriate public use, and not for mountain bike and BMX dirt trails.

"Some of these ditches were more than five foot in depth, and therefore presented a danger to park users; especially children."

The riposte comes after a group of cyclists complained about the ramps being flattened.

A petition was then created to persuade the council to think again, which has gained well over 300 signatures.

The Hardingstone trails have fostered a close-knit mountain biking community over several years

But the council says YouTube videos show bikes travelling at high speed over the jumps, which it says was hazardous to people using the park.

Parts of the Delapre Park Registered Historic Battlefield have also been dug up, disturbing pottery in the ground, says the council.

The spokeswoman said: “Our officers have previously spoken with some of the bikers to inform them that they are vandalising borough council-owned land, but they continued to dig these trenches, resulting in the action taken.

"There are appropriate designated areas within the borough for bikers - for example at the Radlands Plaza- where they can ride and not cause a danger to other members of the public.”

Mountain biker Tom Robinson, who uses the trail regularly, said the course had given bikers pleasure for more than 20 years without harming anyone, and had fostered a close community.

He claims the bikers there have not built any new jumps in recent years but they have maintained the existing ones.

His petition says: "We obviously share the land with many walkers and animals, which are all greeted with respect and riders will always ensure they and others around them are safe when riding.

"But for the council, this wasn't acceptable and they have decided to ruin it for the community that has been built here."