Owners of family-run Derbyshire bike track prepare for judicial review to decide their future
The owners of a popular bike track in Ashover have given an update ahead of their judicial review later this year.
Jennifer Dring, co-owner of the Butts Quarry Bike Track - one of the oldest tracks in the country - said they were preparing for a judicial review in March.
They are appealing the decision by North East Derbyshire District Council to serve them an abatement notice last December.
She said: “We can’t believe it's going all the way to court. How can the council warrant spending all this public money trying to close a perfectly good track?”
Her husband Barry estimated the total cost of the case for both sides could reach £45,000, and said all the money made at the track for nearly 12 months has been spent on legal fees to fight the case.
“We’ve lived this for nearly a whole year now - every time we’ve opened those gates this year, every penny has gone to our solicitors, and we can’t carry on doing that,” she added.
There has been almost unanimous support for Butts Quarry from those who live nearby, with nearly 13,000 people signing a petition urging the council to allow motorsports to continue at the venue.
Mrs Dring said: “We’re one of the oldest tracks in the UK, and a lot of local people are saying this is part of our heritage, part of Ashover. For many people in the village, it’s part of their childhood.
“The thousands who signed the online petition have given us a lift, and we’ve got support from the local horse riding community, who say the track keeps bikes off the bridleways they use. The rural police even come down here and train for free.
“We’re a recreational facility, we’re going through a pandemic where businesses are closing down, and we are very important with regards to men’s mental health.”
The track was served with an abatement notice just before Christmas last year, which would only permit them to open once a month, and would force bikes to pass a static noise test of 96 decibels.
Mr Dring said: “If we were breaking the law I would understand it, but we’re not- we’re a legitimate, family-run business, and this track has been running for 60 years.
“We only open once a fortnight for five hours, and we’ve done noise tests around the village as part of our noise management plan- it’s quieter now than it’s ever been.
“The council wants our bikes to be quieter than any being produced by manufacturers. It’s completely impossible.”
Mrs Dring said the case is being watched closely, with industry figures concerned that, if their appeal is unsuccessful, other tracks could face similar action.
“The International Organisation of Professional Drivers, who issue our licence to run, are worried. They said if we lose, it will set a precedent, because we’re a professionally run business and we’ve done this thing for years.
“There won’t be a track in the UK able to survive.”
Mrs Dring said she did not want to set up a GoFundMe to help with legal costs, but encouraged locals and riders to support their events- The next of which is the ‘Christmas Pud Enduro’ on Monday, December 27.
There is a £35 race fee for riders, and the racing will run from 10.00am to 3.00pm. Gates open at 8.30am and spectators are welcome, and there will be a food van and medics on site.
A North East Derbyshire District Council spokesperson said: “The Council has served an abatement notice with regard to nuisance caused by activity at Butts Quarry. This is subject to an appeal by the operator which will be considered by the Court in due course.”