Desperate times could call for desperate measures at Newbold Comyn cycle trails - The Leamington Observer

Desperate times could call for desperate measures at Newbold Comyn cycle trails

Leamington Editorial 13th May, 2024   0

DESPERATE measures could be used to find a contractor to run the cycle trails at Newbold Comyn in Leamington.

Warwick District Council are faced with three options after a procurement exercise to find a contractor to run the contentious cycle trails was unsuccessful – one of which could lead to “reputational damage”.

The series of family friendly trails were opened at the country park in October last year.

They were made possible thanks to a £423,500 grant from Sport England and British Cycling through the Places to Ride fund, with additional funding provided from the Community Infrastructure Levy.

WDC, which has been spearheading the project, report that since the trails opened they have been well used and officers have received very positive feedback about the facility.

But the journey up to this point has been far from smooth for the council.

Campaigners called for work to stop on the trails during their construction, claiming the original plans for family friendly cycle trails had “deviated” to become extensive mountain bike trails, which could lead to riders coming from far and wide, not just locally.

And now WDC has hit another bump in the road after failing to find a contractor to run the cycle trails and the adjoining cycle hub and cafe.

Since the official opening, the cycle facilities have been run “in-house” by WDC and this remains one option on the table going forward.

A second option is to find a contractor to run the cycle trails only and a separate operator for the adjoining cafe, which is not yet open.

A final option is to return the £423.500 grant for the cycle trails to Sport England, which would remove the commitments attached to the funding conditions. These involve delivering a cycle hub building over the next 15 years.

If the funding was returned the council could put this building to another use. But councillors are warned returning the funding would lead to reputational damage.

A statement from official documents reads: “Returning the funding or attempting to alter the terms and conditions of grant delivery is considered to be highly risky in terms of reputational damage to the council with Sport England and those individuals who have been opposed to the scheme from its inception.”

Option two is officers preferred option.

WDC’s Cabinet were set to consider which option to pursue as the Observer went to press.

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