South East Wales

Concerns as Maesteg BMX track is closed for public use

BMX rider on the Llynfi track
Image caption The BMX track in Maesteg was Wales' first national standard circuit

There are concerns that a national standard BMX track in Maesteg built with public money is closed to the public just two years after it opened.

The facility in Maesteg, near Bridgend, was built with Welsh government and local authority cash.

A BMX group with its own insurance uses the site three times a week but the track stays shut the rest of the time.

Caerau Development Trust, which runs the site, said it was "too valuable" to be "abused and spoilt" by public use.

Built on the site of a former coal mine, the Llynfi BMX track is Wales' first national standard BMX track, featuring a starting hill, 90-degree turns and a variety of jumps built to British Cycling specifications.

Llynfi Valley BMX group holds training sessions there two evenings and one afternoon each week.

The group covers the insurance for the track during these hours. Outside these hours the site is not insured and is closed to the community.

But some local BMX riders have been breaking in through a hole in the fence in order to use it.

Former Bridgend council leader and local resident Jeff Jones said: "Someone who wants to win an Olympic gold medal could train here and that's very important to stress, we all talk about the Olympic legacy.

"I think serious questions need to be asked why the business plan ... wasn't properly scrutinised?"

The sign at the site entrance says that the track is "available for public use and for all to enjoy".

Image caption The sign advertises the track as available for public use 'for all to enjoy'

Caerau Development Trust chair Dr Jill Evans said: "It isn't open to the general public as such - anyone can come but through the club.

"Last year we had it open nearly all the time and it has been abused because we had it open all the time.

"We don't just open it to the public because it will get abused and spoilt and it is too valuable for that."

Matthew Rowlands, who runs the Llynfi Valley BMX group, said it was normal for a BMX site to be open for limited periods.

He said: "There are only three national race tracks in Wales but further afield in England where there are far more the case is very much the same - they only open the track for the sessions themselves.

"They don't leave it a free-for-all just because of the nature of it being a race track not a pump or a dirt track which so many tracks in Wales and Britain are."

'Airing possibilities'

In a statement the Welsh government said: "We understand that due to limited funding Caerau Development Trust is currently unable to obtain the insurance required to allow open access to the BMX track.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionJoanna Humphreys reports on concerns about the closure

"Bridgend council, who lease the site to the trust, are working with the trust and the BMX club to look at ways of increasing opening hours."

Earlier this week Bridgend council and Maesteg Town Council met to discuss the future management of the track.

Bridgend council told BBC Wales: "Unfortunately, Caerau Development Trust have made us aware that they are unable to continue to manage the Llynfi BMX track.

"We are passionate about retaining Wales' first ever national standard BMX track as a fantastic facility for the public and local members."

The council said it wanted to "explore alternative partnership opportunities".

But the trust has denied any intention to pull out, saying: "The statement is not true. It could be true in the future but we are still airing possibilities at the moment."

The trust insisted that it was too early to say what would happen to the site but it was looking at ways of being more involved in the sports scene in the area.

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