bike enthusiasts who created an unofficial BMX track on derelict land are devastated after it was bulldozed by its owners.
The track was hand built by a group of volunteers led by Charlie Shaw five-and-a-half years ago, in woodland between the M62 and A58 near Cleckheaton. The land is owned by the Highways Agency but has been disused for decades.
Charlie and a group of young people with a passion for the sport took it upon themselves to build the track, which included dirt jumps. They also received support from residents.
“I’m determined not to let this spoil our fun and stop us giving something back to people who enjoy the sport,” Charlie said.
“It’s soul destroying, but we will be back either on that site or another locally. Nothing can stop us riding our bikes. Yes it can be dangerous, but we know the risks and take care doing the sport we love.”
Officials have been trying to close the track down for the last few years due to ‘the unacceptable safety risk’ to both riders and motorists.
A Highways spokeswoman said: “Although we do not wish to spoil anyone’s enjoyment of leisure activities, we had significant safety concerns about the use of this land by BMX riders.
“The site was not an authorised BMX track and no permission was ever sought from the Highways Agency prior to its construction. We posted notices in the area to inform users of our plans.”
However, when the demolition took place on February 9 it came as a complete shock.
“I’m still baffled The land might belong to the Highways Agency but they don’t use it,” said Charlie.
“I’ve lived next to it for 30 years and it’s always been a mess, we’ve discovered bags of needles used by heroin addicts. We’ve cleaned it up while they haven’t done anything with it.”
Spen MP Mike Wood’s office tried to negotiate with the Highways Agency over the land.
A spokesman said: “By the time we knew about it, they had already taken the decision to close the track. We approached them because we thought it was a reasonable activity for the users and asked if a limited tenancy could be arranged, but Highways refused.”