'We're not anti-BMX – but this is the pits'
A pit covered with bracken, plastic and wood found on Rodway Common. Picture: Emersons Green Town Council
A COUNCIL has defended its decision to fill in pits dug on a BMX track used by young people on Rodway Common.
Emersons Green Town Council announced on its Facebook page that there was "a bit of an issue...with the creation of a makeshift BMX track", which it said "poses a significant health and safety hazard to those walking, or biking, in the area".
Going on to say that it was "taking measures to return the land in question to its original state", the council advised people to use "purpose built" skate parks and said it wanted to "spread the word that this destruction of the common is unacceptable".
However the announcement brought protests from residents who said the area had been in use by BMX bikers for more than 30 years, with commenters telling the council to "let the kids have some fun" and "leave Mangotsfield alone".
There were also complaints that the skate park near the shops in Emersons Green was plagued by anti-social behaviour and the track built at Lyde Green was "sub-standard".
The town council, which has legal responsibilities for health and safety on the common, has now clarified its position to say that it was only planning to fill in some of the "pits" on the track, near the path which links the common to the Bristol and Bath Railway Path, and does not want to stop youngsters riding BMX bikes on the common.
Deputy mayor Sadik Al-Hassan said: "The town council is aware that the area has been used by BMX bikers for many years, and this is not something that we wish to cease.
"However, within the last few months, there have been significant excavations (with shovels) in the area, which constitute a serious health and safety hazard, which was reported to us by a member of the public.
"The council is mindful of the risk to the users of the common in general, as well as the bikers themselves, from some of these deep ‘pits’. Some have been covered with sticks and bracken so they are not clearly visible.
"The town council has to take health and safety risks to members of the public seriously, and town council insurance would not cover any accidents or injuries arising from such excavations."
The council has agreed to pay a building contractor up to £900 including VAT for the work, and review the situation in September. It also wants to set up a youth council or forum to help shape future developments and services for young people.
Anyone who is interested in helping out should email the council at firstname.lastname@example.org.