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JIM PARKER: Mixed feelings over cycle track

By Herald Express  |  Posted: May 30, 2014

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PSSST... I shouldn't be saying this so please keep it quiet. I have some concerns about a development in Torbay and a sporting development at that.

Yep, Parker, the man who wants to cover Torbay in concrete and who has sport running through his blood, having doubts about 'progress' in the sporting arena. The new closed circuit track at Clennon Valley is what has been keeping me awake at night (I exaggerate slightly).

The Torbay Council and British Cycling project is about to open. It was going to include a velodrome, but that is not now going to go ahead for the time being.

I was over at Clennon Valley the other weekend for a sadly washed out world record breaking human centipede attempt and saw the track for the first time. Put simply, it is a flat black road through what was once playing fields.

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Residents have been expressing their concerns as well, but more from a car parking point of view. They have fears about cyclists avoiding paying to park in the Clennon Valley car park and clogging up their streets.

Torbay Council is currently in the process of seeing if they want double yellow lines installed with ward councillors Alan Tyerman and Jane Barnby leading the consultation process.

Peter Thorne, who lives in Brantwood Drive overlooking the valley, says: "One of the main concerns residents have living near the cycle track are how this will impact upon their amenity such as car parking.

"Currently the ward councilors have been busy posting residents an options paper on whether they would like double yellow lines installed along certain parts of Brantwood Drive. Why should certain Brantwood Drive residents be denied a normal parking space outside their own homes?"

He believes the lines are just a way of making sure drivers are forced to park in the car park and pay.

"The other day the police were called and they were issuing tickets to the drivers who had parked there for a football tournament," says Peter.

"The same problem will evolve with the cycle track." As for the track itself, he says: "Although well engineered and beautifully made, it is essentially a road to no where.

"Why would anyone wish to essentially ride around and around all day on two wheels-and in all weathers? "

He also has concerns about the weather conditions and flooding at Clennon Valley. He says: "When the track was being constructed during the winter months, I noticed the security fencing kept blowing over on the north eastern side, indicating very strong cross winds.

"Any local person who regularly walks their dogs or who knows this area well, can confirm how windy this open and exposed environment can be and not just during the winter time. The newly raised bank there will only exacerbate this problem.

"Another negative aspect is the potential for flooding.

"In recent years flooding of the fields near the pumping station, has occurred with alarming regularity every three to five years.

"The cycle track is essentially built on a natural delta and I believe the added road surface will create extra water run-off, potentially causing nearby flooding, including in Dartmouth Road."

Ward councillor Tyerman is keen to get feedback from the residents before any new parking restrictions are brought in — if any at all.

He says: "We are asking the residents if they would like yellow lines on one side of the road to prevent the quite narrow road from being blocked through things like emergency vehicles.

"When we had the consultation with the cycle track a lot of residents from Brantwood were very vocal that this would make the parking issues considerably worse.

"I do not think many people coming to the track will park in Brantwood, but I am not saying none will.

"As a result of the demand that we do something about it, before Christmas some letters were sent out asking residents to consider options including a parking zone.

"The answer was 'no' and there was a split between yellow lines and doing nothing.

"We have worked up a scheme for yellow lines and will go to the residents to ask them do they want them or not.

"The council's marginal preference is doing nothing.

"People park. Roads are for people to park. They do not want yellow lines."

He said the council could not make parking free for the cyclists in what is also a car park for people going to the beach.

He said there would be discounts for them as there are for current leisure centre members.

He admits: "I think visually it (the cycle track) is unwelcome. On the other hand, you can argue you cannot make progress with some sacrifice.

"I was absolutely staggered when we went out to consultation that there was not significantly more people objecting.

"When people are asked to support sport they dare not say no.

"If it is well used we will all say how fantastic it is. The next few months will tell us."

Peter Thorne says: "A once treasured open public space has now become privatised.

"It is a massive footprint. It is a bit of a gamble. It could potentially be a white elephant.

"All that asphalt could have been used to fill in all the potholes."

Cllr Tyerman is right when he says only time will tell if the track is a success. I genuinely hope it is. The council, for ever criticised for not delivering, has done just that with the cycle track. But I do have some concerns — although don't tell anyone!

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  • themightyflea  |  May 31 2014, 12:04AM

    Fear not residents - Torbay council will soon be putting up resident only parking signs ....... at a cost to you and your visitors. White Elephant? - of course it is.