Residents complain of churned up heath where they like to walk their dogs

Bury St Edmunds residents have complained that their local park was left looking like a ‘World War One battlefield’ following a cyclo-cross event last weekend.

Hardwick Heath hosted the Eastern Cyclo-cross League last Saturday, paying the council £200 for its use.

One local, Stuart Allison, who walks his dog on the 55-acre heath, told the Bury Free Press: “This is the second year it has been held at Hardwick Heath. I complained to my local councillor about how it was left last year,” he said.

“This year it was raining and, to be honest, it is a total mess. The local people who use the heath are up in arms. The damage up there is terrible and in some places the mud is inches deep.

“Near the pond there is a slew of mud that looks like a World War One battlefield and there is one path used by people going to the hospital which has been turned into a river of mud.

“At the moment it is a hazard. This morning I met probably 10-20 other dog walkers and every one of them complained about it. For the council this is a money-making exercise, but that shouldn’t overcome the objections to the event. If they have to hold it there, they should do it in the spring,” added Stuart.

A St Edmundsbury Borough Council spokesman said: “While we have received a number of complaints and we do acknowledge that some of heath is a little damaged, it is not dangerous and should be back to normal in a few weeks.

“We have listened to residents’ concerns and we will explore alternative options with the organisers of the event for next year,” he added.

Michael Lawson, secretary of West Suffolk Wheelers, which hosted the event. said: “Obviously the wet weather on Saturday meant the grass on the heath was cut up and we can understand that people may be concerned, however from our experience at our previous events and those others across the region, the grass will recover nicely over the next few weeks,” he added.

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.