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Park left in poor state after cycling event

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: November 14, 2012

  • 23r23r: Laying down grass in Montpellier Gardens

  • SUFFERED: Parts of the grassland in Pittville Park has been badly damaged

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CYCLISTS competing in an amateur race churned up grass at a Cheltenham park.

Pittville Park was left in "a lot of mess", with torn-up grass after members of the Western Cyclocross League headed to the open space for a meeting.

The wet weather has been blamed for leaving the ground too wet before the cyclists started their race.

Borough council bosses are now talking to the group about using the land for future events.

And the Friends of Pittville Park have asked users to leave the spot how they would expect to find it.

Judy Longhorn, chairman of the group, said she was pleased more people were using the park.

She added: "We like to see people having fun there and enjoying themselves.

"I don't want to be seen as an old curmudgeon but it cannot be left in a mess. When the weather has been like it has, people need a bit of forethought.

"We spend a lot of time making the park look nice. People need to be leave it as they wish to find it."

Cheltenham Borough Council is now considering how to repair the damage at the park.

Wayne Sedgwick, senior community ranger, said officers had already visited to take a look at what needed to be done.

And he said the authority was in talks with the Western Cyclocross League about future events in the park.

Mr Sedgwick added: "A local cycling group recently arranged to use Pittville Park for a well-established annual event.

"Unfortunately, it seems that some areas of the park have suffered which may have been partly due to the wet weather conditions.

"We have already visited the park and are deciding on the best course of action to take. We will be liaising with the group about this and arrangements for future events."

The Western League series caters for Cyclocross racers in and around Bristol. Its Cyclocross races are described as "great fun, short events, over easy off-road terrain."

Cyclocross used to be a traditional winter sport, but it is now an international sport in its own right. League organisers did not respond to requests for comment.

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  • Voice  |  November 16 2012, 5:10PM

    the league actually do pay to the council for repairs made to any sites in the authority area and this is no small fee and paid annually every year. I may also like to point out that in that same weekend was a running race covering much the same pathway through the park just the afternoon before.... i wonder if in her race to persecute the responsible cyclist Judy and her friends stopped to consider this..........I'm guessing not.

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  • keiths1  |  November 15 2012, 5:23PM

    "The wet weather has been blamed for leaving the ground too wet before the cyclists started their race."== *NAUGHTY* wet weather! Don't do it again!

    Rate   3
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  • eyeopener  |  November 14 2012, 10:44PM

    I have used Pittville Park regularly over many years and it is always muddy in the winter. Being next to the lake, both Aggs Gardner Field and the park itself have a high water table. The entrance into Aggs Gardner Field at the junction with Marle Hill Parade is always a quagmire as is the slope out of the field and into the park proper next to the school. The worst perpetrator is Parks Department vehicles who collect the refuse from the bins. You can see their tracks in the quagmire. I am not a cyclist but I cannot say that I have ever known these cycle events leave the mess they are accused of. Judy Longhorn said "I don't want to be seen as an old curmudgeon but it cannot be left in a mess. When the weather has been like it has, people need a bit of forethought." Well there is a thought for CBC vehicles. Some of the mess could be avoided if the Parks Department laid more 'mats' in the worst affected areas. If people are really worried about cyclists in the park. Forget the organised events and crack down on the demon cyclists who speed along the paths ringing their bells furiously at pedestrians as if they were on a Velodrome.

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  • steve1968mith  |  November 14 2012, 10:20PM

    As a Pittville Lawn resident, I'm happy to see the park used for social and sporting pursuits. Having the privilege of knowing some of the organisers and participants, I've had the chance to listen to them discussing this topic first hand. I hope that my reply can help allay the understandable concerns expressed by some people in this thread. I've heard the organisers and participants talking, in a responsible and empathetic manner, of the (transient) impact that they have, of how they can minimise damage, and of how they can maintain good relations with other stakeholder groups. Whilst there may be corners of society where irresponsibility is the norm, take my word that this is not such a corner. These are people who are keen to continue a sustainable use of local facilities.

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  • pat_alx  |  November 14 2012, 8:18PM

    I have organised 3 major National Trophy Cyclo-Cross events in Pitville Park in the 2000s - featuring world champion competitors. Also I have competed there in more recent Western Series events. Currently, there is just one race held there in the winter and also another in the summer. Just two a year, that's not exactly frequent. Some races in the past were, inevitably (being winter) held on wet or damp land. On those day's, as on last Sunday, the ground does inevitably get cut up by the bikes' 28mm to 35mm wide tyres. However, unlike motocross bikes with far greater power going through the back wheel, the bicycle tyres simply push the grass down into the mud - it's not torn out. Within a couple of weeks - even in the winter - this grass recovers and the Park looks as if nothing happened there. That's the same situation in hundreds of parks up & down the country where cyclo-cross races are also run. This isn't an isolated event. I therefore suggest that the Friends of Pitville Park and the Borough Council need to exercise a little patience before jumping to conclusions about "damage"- since nature has a fantastic ability to recover. Furthermore, we need to encourage more variety in local sport especially for young people, not just the staple diet of football or rugby. Those sports achieved NO medals at the 2012 London Olympics - however our great cyclists nailed 12 medals of the total 65 haul. To repeat that in Rio we need a broad base of cycle sport, that's why Pittville Park should continue to be used for cyclo-cross racing, it's the base of the pyramid we need to continue to conquer the world! By the way, these Cyclo-Cross races have never been a commercial activity. It's paid for by entry fees alone and after the costs of the venue and other expenses have been paid, the excess money gets distributed to the best riders as a prize awards, £20, £10, £5 etc. The marshals are voluntary and deserve plenty of thanks for donating their time. Frankly, it's "light years" away from the pathetic celebrity, greed and corruption of the major sports. Long may it stay that way.

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  • tishwash  |  November 14 2012, 7:19PM

    no but it shows that CBC look after their park. IF you want to run an event you have a lot of meetings with the council and discussions about the land and how it has to be left etc. They will be paying to repair it very quickly so why such a big story, should we stop all green spaces being used ? how about those pesky pedestrians who might not walk on the path and may carve their own paths, going towards st pauls there's a smaller park and no footpath on the right hand side so people walk anyway and it's made a muddy footpath.

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  • photoshop2010  |  November 14 2012, 5:37PM

    The picture showing repairs in progress is NOT Pittville Park!

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  • tishwash  |  November 14 2012, 5:25PM

    If you damage it you repair it, it's in the agreement and the picture shows it being repaired. What are we to do, just have open green grass areas that people can't enjoy ? People need to chill!

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  • geraint2010  |  November 14 2012, 12:00PM

    My understanding is that a condition of Book Festival is that the organisers have to pay to promptly make good any damage and no doubt they did so. I don't want to see any popular events banned, but presumably the same conditions and responsibilities apply to organisers of other events such as the cycling race? If this is NOT the situation then surely question to be asked is "Why not"?

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  • Douglasknows  |  November 14 2012, 11:40AM

    There should be an enrolment fee for future use. This money could then go toward the repair of the grounds.

    Rate   11
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