A cycling track planned for New House Farm in Breightmet, Bolton, has come up against strong opposition from a number of local residents. A petition against it, entitled Bolton Council Don't Waste Taxpayer's Money Creating Another Eyesore, attracted 470 signatures.
The council says the fenced off cycling track will cost around £650,000 with hopes that £400,000 of the cost will be raised via a funding bid from British Cycling. Campaigners dispute this, with one claiming that Bolton Council’s finance team informed them the cost would be £1.3 million in total, with £300,000 coming from the council, £700,000 from British Cycling and £300,000 from Sports England.
British Cycling says a lack of dedicated cycling facilities are a "huge" barrier to participation in the sport, including among young people, women, girls and disabled people, and facilities like those proposed in Bolton will help realise latent demand among those groups.
“This amount of money is obscene when the town could do with regeneration, more police and cleaning,” states the petition.
The council submitted a planning application for a 1.4km circuit at the same location last year but withdrew it before a decision was made. Another petition at that time gathered 400 signatures.
Chris Banks, a campaigner who opposes the plans, told The Bolton News that the cycle track was a ‘stealth project’.
"Residents have been kept in the dark, nobody knows about the development, any information we've managed to obtain has come from FOI and contacting Bolton Council with specific requests. This is a stealth project to avoid any complaints being registered."
The petition says the project will exacerbate traffic problems, while also expressing concerns that it will attract anti-social behaviour if it is not properly maintained.
Referring to a nearby basketball court as an example of what could happen, it says: “In the centre of the basketball court is a huge pile of burned waste, constantly set on fire. There is glass and rubbish. The area is not used for what it is intended for as a result of this. What a waste! Please do not waste more money!”
A council spokesman said: “We are currently consulting on the planning application and any representations received on planning grounds, will be considered. As with any planning application, the work is subject to approval and this application will ultimately be decided by planning committee.”
A British Cycling spokesperson told road.cc: "British Cycling is aware of plans for a new cycle facility in Bolton, and has been working with Bolton Council on the development of the scheme.
"Across the country, we know that the lack of suitable multi-discipline cycling facilities is a huge barrier to increased participation across a number of groups, including young people, disabled people, women and girls and new participants.
"As an organisation, one of British Cycling’s key aims is to provide safe, traffic-free facilities which give as many people as possible the opportunity to enjoy the sport and develop their skills and confidence.
"According to Sport England data indicates a strong latent demand for adults wanting to cycle who do not already. A dedicated cycle circuit and clubhouse will allow us to meet this demand by establishing new programmes and activities in a safe, traffic- free environment, developing lifelong participation in cycling."