Hunt to continue for contractor for Newbold Comyn cycle hub - The Leamington Observer

Hunt to continue for contractor for Newbold Comyn cycle hub

Leamington Editorial 22nd May, 2024   0

HEATED debate continues over Newbold Comyn cycle trails as it was agreed the hunt should go on for an operator for the cycle hub and cafe.

Warwick District Council, which has been spearheading the project, recently reported that the trails at the country park in Leamington have been well used and officers have received positive feedback from riders.

The series of trails 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.

But the ride has been far from smooth for WDC.

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.

They feared the trails could become a magnet for riders from far and wide – spoiling the popular park for local residents.

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

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

A second option was 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 was to return the £423,000 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 had been warned by officers that returning the funding would be damaging.

Councillors voted to pursue option two.

But this was not before two public speakers put forward opposing views on the cycle trails and the way forward.

Andy Robson, secretary of British Cycling for the West Midlands and member of Leamington Cycling Club, said he could think of no other facility that had had such a great impact on community health and wellbeing.

Mr Robson argued that the cafe could be used by all the different user groups at Newbold Comyn, not just cyclists.

Resident Sean Russell on the other hand said he was frustrated and saddened how the council was managing Newbold Comyn, which was used by so many different people.

He spoke in favour of returning the funding to Sport England and “sucking up” the reputational damage.

He added: “At least when you give the money back you will be able to work in the interests of the community and not a faceless organisation.”


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