Bikers set to descend on Matlock Bath in protest ride amid parking changes row

Matlock Bath is planning to gain a bigger share of the �1.9 billion which tourists spend in Derbyshire each year thanks to a research project launched by University of Derby tourism students.
Matlock Bath is planning to gain a bigger share of the �1.9 billion which tourists spend in Derbyshire each year thanks to a research project launched by University of Derby tourism students.

More than 1,000 bikers are expected to descend on Matlock Bath on Sunday amid county council plans to impose controversial changes to parking at the popular tourist location.

The bikers say the proposals, which would mean people would have to pay 50p per hour for a maximum of two hours on North Parade and South Parade, will impact negatively on tourism, trade and the economy within the area.

Some business owners have also spoken out, stating that a lot of people are drawn to Matlock to see the bikes and that it would “kill” the town.

However, council bosses say the changes will increase the number of visitors and also help the economy.

Chris Thomson, 28, who set-up the ‘Save Matlock Bath’ page on Facebook, said: “The fact that thousands of people have indicated they will be attending just goes to show what Matlock means to people.

“If the changes go ahead then bikers will dodge the town and go somewhere else. I think the town will suffer.

“It is not about the money, it is about the maximum stay. What is the point in me travelling from Telford if I can’t stay for more than two hours?”

Mr Thomson says that, although he does not think everyone who has joined the page will attend, some bikers are coming from far and wide, with one travelling from Dubai.

“A picture of that scene with all the bikers there will show the support and will show the council to stop being silly,” he added.

It is the second time that charges have been proposed - but the plans in 2012 were scrapped after thousands objected.

A separate petition, launched by Alfreton rider John Hopkin, which asks the council to ‘abandon on-street parking charges at Matlock Bath’, has received more than 7,500 signatures.

Mark Hawoth, of Belper, wrote on the petition: “Bikers are a fundamental heartbeat of Matlock Bath. Putting charges in place will discourage the use of the on-street facilities and stop riders coming.”

Samantha Week, of Chesterfield, posted: “This is a death sentence to the small businesses and independent traders. Matlock Bath relies solely on tourism and visitors so why are you trying to rip the heart and soul out of this beautiful spa town?”

A Derbyshire County Council spokeswoman said: “We received the petition which will be considered along with comments made as part of the public consultation which ended in January.

“Once all the responses have been analysed, officers will report back to the appropriate cabinet member who will decide what action, if any, to take.”

When the proposals were first announced, cabinet member for highways at Derbyshire County Council, Dean Collins, said: “At the moment you can only park for an hour on Dale Road, which doesn’t give people much time to walk back into the village.

“Visitors on motorbikes are an important part of the Matlock Bath economy.

“Under the proposals they can park for longer.”

Bikers will leave The Hurt Arms on Derby Road, at noon, with a 10am meet.

Bikers will leave The Hurt Arms on Derby Road, at noon, with a 10am meet.