Residents call for action against bikers

By Juliette MaxamEVERY resident of a hamlet has signed a petition urging a council to take swift action to stop motorcycle scramblers using a former gravel pit.

By Juliette Maxam

EVERY resident of a hamlet has signed a petition urging a council to take swift action to stop motorcycle scramblers using a former gravel pit.

Off-road motorcyclists started to use private land off Mumford Hill, Rotten End, near Wethersfield, for scrambling in November 2003.

A track with earth mound jumps was created and last summer an average of six motorcyclists were there almost every Sunday and several evenings.

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Residents in Rotten End contacted Braintree District Council, complaining about the noise, which they claimed could be heard from inside their homes.

They also started to keep diaries of activities on the field and the council held talks with the landowner and police.

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Environmental protection officers visited Rotten End and confirmed the noise was causing a "statutory nuisance" - and while there they witnessed a quad bike straying from the track and riding along the public footpath.

The landowner told the council he wanted to continue to use the land for scrambling, but would put in a gate to prevent unauthorised riders from using it.

In November, he held an organised event, with about 30 bikes and 60 riders taking part, which raised £1,000 for the Essex Air Ambulance.

But the noise from the event was the final straw for residents, who organised a petition calling on the council to stop motorcyclists using the land.

Mike Allpress, who organised the petition, said: "The ironic thing is if you can't even see this field because we're at the bottom on a valley. The sound carries down.

"While it's going on you wouldn't want to hold a party in the summer, it would be really horrible. You can hear it indoors even with the television on, it's that loud."

A report to Braintree District Council's planning committee by environmental protection officer Angela Hornby said the activity had "significant potential to cause disturbance to local residents".

But she added: "Environmental health officers are not satisfied at this point that a statutory nuisance exists and are encouraged that the landowner has taken steps to control the activity at this site."

She told the committee - which will discuss the issue on February 8 - that legal action would be taken if a statutory noise nuisance was proved, but felt at the moment it was appropriate to maintain contact with the landowner to prevent it occurring.

The landowner could not be contacted for comment yesterday.

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