Weston-super-Mare bike park under threat after rogue jumps appear in woodland

  • Watch Imogen McGuckin's report

Young people at a popular bike park near Weston-super-Mare say that if it were closed, there would be "nowhere else to go".

The dirt jumps at Sand Bay Bike Park, in Kewstoke, were first created around 20 years ago, but now North Somerset Council has concerns about their safety.

It follows the creation of new jumps outside the normal area, throughout Weston Woods, and the launch of the council's new coastal path which passes the jumps.

The new, unauthorised, jumps are near footpaths and can bring riders dangerously close to people out walking. But the local people who use the bike park say these new ramps are nothing to do with them.

Mike Solomon (Lib Dem and Independents, Hutton and Locking) is the council's executive member for culture and leisure.

He said the local authority was "broadly supportive" of the bike park, but that there were some fears that needed to be addressed.

The dirt jumps at Sand Bay Bike Park have expanded over the last 20 years Credit: Andy Dockrell

"The main concerns are the new coastal path, that runs for eleven and a half miles from Brean to Sand Bay.

"People use it a lot and we don't want cyclists coming down there and the chance of them possibly hitting someone out for a walk.

"Our second concern is expanding outside the area. Over the years, it's been 20 years, they've been allowed to expand.

"We don't want to take that away but we don't want to expand outside - even if it is other groups, we will flatten that."

The council has installed red fencing to separate the riders from the coastal path that runs alongside the jumps

He added that the council did not want the riders to use soil from around the trees in the woodland to build new jumps, as this could harm their roots.

The bike park is wholly run by volunteers who come down at weekends to maintain the jumps, encourage the younger riders and train for national competitions.

Nathaniel Meadows, a volunteer, said they would do "anything they could" to work with the council on keeping the park open safely.

Cliff Barbeary, who runs the national Dirt Wars series, added: "If we can keep this area and keep the guys doing what they're doing, it would just be an absolutely amazing thing for Weston-super-Mare."

Young people at the park were quick to speak in its defence. One young man said: "It brings all of these people here lots of fun and it's really good for everyone that comes here. If we couldn't come here, there would be nowhere else to go.

Another said: "I saved three years to buy my bike just to come here and progress. It's just so much better than just staying at home. I just come out here and get some exercise in."

Andy Dockrell, the father of one of the riders, said he had spent nearly every day of the summer holidays there with his son, Isaac.

"If this wasn't here, I wouldn't be able to get him out of the house. He'd be stuck on a computer game all day."

Councillors, officers and park volunteers met at the jumps on Tuesday 22 August to discuss the safety issues.

The officers will then make recommendations to Cllr Solomon, who will decide what action - if any - to take.