It is clear that some people are not in favour of a pump track and have put forward the following objections;
- Destroying Green Space
- Antisocial Behaviour
- Parking Issues
- Lack of Consultation for alternative
- Flooding Below the site
- Grot Spot
This page attempts to address some of these claims.
Destroying Green Space
While I can argue that no green space will be removed I can say that it is minimised. Assuming the size of the track proposed is 150m in length and on average 1.5m in width. This gives a total area of tarmac of 225m2. Which is about the same as the floor area in two average 3 bedroom houses or one tennis court.
What this does not consider is that the batters which will be laid to grass on the raised sides of the track actually create green space. So the actual number is much less.
A small sacrifice for a facility that could be used by lots of people all year round.
First thing to say is that no one wants Anti-Social behaviour on their doorstep and we should try and find methods to stop or reduce this. Having said that out of sight out of mind is also not the answer either. One thing that can be said is that I have found no literature that says Pump Tracks are the source of Anti-Social behaviour on the contrary they have been shown to alleviate anti-social tendencies [1,2]. The positive factors which have been identified as giving children resilience against potential anti-social tendencies are:
Social Bonding – strengthening of bonds between children and friends, family, and other socially responsible adults
Healthy Standards – refers to having parents, teachers and other community leaders who lead by example.
Opportunities for Involvement – Giving children a chance to feel involved and valued in their communities.
Social and Learning skills – Entails equipping children with the social reasoning and practical skills they need to take advantage of opportunities on offer.
There are some anti-social issues in Hawkenbury but the HVA do not believe the addition of a pump track to the recreation ground will increase the problem. A community pump track can in fact encourage some of the positive factors described above.
 – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-east-wales-23456413
 – Wishawhill Wood Pump Track
Hawkenbury Recreation ground has a wide variety of sporting activities on offer which we are fortunate to have. It is clear that the parking facilities are insufficient. Part of the S106 money from Hollfyields is allocated to increase the size of the parking area near the cricket pavilion. Probably still not enough but a start.
The major parking issues are caused by the Hockey, Football and Cricket teams who come from outside the area to play in the grounds.
The pump track by its nature is an urban cycling facility and the point is for most users to ride their bikes to it. Of course this would be easier if the whole network of cycle paths across the town were also improved. There will be those who drive from outside the area to visit the pump track but the numbers are envisaged to be small compared to the team sports. Estimated maximum between 5 and 8 cars at peak periods i.e. weekends.
Lack of Consultation for an Alternative
The text below is from recent Facebook post from Hawkenbury Resident and former HVA committee member and Chairman. It provides a good reference to the consultation process undertaken to date by the HVA. Thanks Dean!
As a current member and past chair of the HVA, I would like to clarify a few concerns that have been raised in the recent postings on Facebook in relation to the operation of the HVA and how a decision was taken in relation to the pump track. These recollections are my own and I have referred to previous committee meeting minutes, AGM minutes, newsletters and articles and posts on the HVA website and Facebook in putting these recollections together. My opinion does not reflect that of the current committee and they have not endorsed this post.
I first became a member of the HVA in October 2010. A HVA road rep knocked on my door, explained what the HVA was and asked if I would be interested in joining for £5. I did join and have been a member since. The HVA has always been an association of members, who pay an annual subscription. Those subscriptions are used for advice on planning applications, lobbying the local council and promoting ideas for the local area. All residents have a role to play and anyone within Hawkenbury can join the HVA and participate in it’s processes. Due to abuse of our road reps, they retired and subscriptions are managed online now.
I actively became involved in the HVA on the latter part of 2012. The HVA was looking for volunteers to plant trees and shrubs in the recreation ground as part of the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations and I joined in. Some of these shrubs were destined to create hedging around the new pavilion, which hadn’t been built yet. Unfortunately, most of these shrubs and trees were vandalised and destroyed over the next year. It was also a big year for parking, as AXA had applied to increase the size of their building at the old Land Registry site. Whilst I did not get involved in the committee at this point, I did register the domain names for the village and set up the first web site for the HVA.
In the latter part of 2013, TWBC sold the land opposite the One Stop and the HVA was informed that £40,000 had been allocated to improve facilities within the Recreation Ground. TWBC wanted the HVA to consult with it’s members regarding the use of the money, which was done. TWBC then sent out a survey to all households in Hawkenbury, listing 5 options that could benefit from the money. TWBC also contacted parents at St Peters and Claremont schools to gain their input. The options included new equipment in the children’s play area, an outdoor gym and a skate park (not to be confused with a pump track, they are different).
At the start of 2014, the results of the survey were in and TWBC released the funds and started work on improving and adding equipment to the children’s play area. As the outdoor gym came second in the survey, the HVA continued to campaign for this equipment, the money was found and it was finally installed in March 2018. The new cricket pavilion was opened in May 2014. It is also noted from committee minutes, that a suggestion for a running track was raised. These markers were later installed by TWBC and a 1km track was demarcated on the existing path network within the Recreation Ground.
In May 2015, the committee finally agreed to add the HVA web site to the newsletter, to better communicate with it’s members and the wider community. At the AGM 2015, Graeme Gibson asked the attending members what improvements they would like to see in the Recreation Ground. People were also encouraged to leave comments online and a call for suggestions was published in the newsletter.
I joined the committee in the latter half of 2016. I had continued to publish articles on the HVA website and Facebook, even though the older members were very reluctant about going digital and adding it as a communications channel.
At the start of 2017, the issue of S106 money from the Berkeley Homes development site was raised with the HVA committee, by our local councillors. S106 monies can be used to create new facilities within a community. If not used in Hawkenbury, then the council can use it anywhere in the borough. Members were asked to put forward proposals for use of the money within Hawkenbury, once again through the newsletter and online. A local resident, Ben Hallett, put forward the suggestion of a pump track. He presented his idea of a pump track to the committee and further discussions were held by the committee, at their meeting on 30 March 2017. A decision was taken to discuss the feasibility of a pump track with the council. Ben was not a committee member and not involved in these committee discussions. Ben was asked to present his idea of a pump track to the members attending the AGM on 18 May 2017 and the response was favourable. I took over as chairman of the HVA in June 2017, when Graeme Gibson stepped down.
In the summer of 2017, Ben was asked to present his idea of a pump track to the council officers and our elected councillors, at a meeting at the Town Hall. The idea of a pump track was also raised in our Summer 2017 newsletter, which was physically distributed to all active members. It was also published online, through the HVA website and Facebook. Ben joined the committee to further the idea of the pump track and be involved in Hawkenbury life. In July 2017, our current chair, Georgina, Ben and other committee members spent time canvassing visitors in the park on their thoughts in relation to the pump track. The feedback from this face to face interaction was overall favourable. There were also negative comments. As can be expected, not everyone wanted a pump track in the Recreation Ground. A number of posters concerning the pump track were put up around the recreation ground and one continues to reside in the notice board, within the recreation ground..
At the end of summer 2017 , the HVA hosted its first picnic in the Recreation Ground. The pump track was widely discussed with those attending and those simply walking past. The committee also took the decision to hand distribute one newsletter a year to every property within Hawkenbury, regardless of whether they were a member or not. It would better inform the local community of what was happening, gain new members and gain wider feedback on a number of issues. The HVA covers approx 750 households.
In 2018, the committee took a decision to commission a concept design of a pump track within the Recreation Ground. This would allow for better consultation, as something concrete could be presented to members, and the wider community. In discussion with the local council officers, it became clear that the preferred location, for the council, was behind the existing all weather pitch. The area was made up of spoil from the building of the all weather pitch. The existing mature trees would provide good screening. Access via the existing and proposed cycle routes was good. A design was created for the area behind the all weather pitch and this was widely publicised through the HVA newsletter, online channels and the local press. It was also discussed at the AGM and the summer picnic.
In 2019, I stepped down as chair and as a committee member, but I continue to be a member. During 2019, Ben has put a lot of effort into publicising the benefits and advantages of a pump track. He has also tried to address concerns of local residents as best he can. He has done this through the newsletters, online channels, the local press and even did a presentation in Royal Victoria Place.
The current consultation is another step in a long process of consultation with local residents, which one could argue started in 2013, when the idea of a skate park was first muted.
I find it rather disingenuous that local residents are complaining that they have not been consulted. Reading through old committee minutes, AGM minutes, newsletters, press clipping and emails, it is quite clear that consultation has been wide and extensive. Whilst the printed newsletter was only distributed to members, those newsletters were published on the HVA website, Facebook and Twitter. They were therefore available to any member of the public, regardless of their membership status. The idea of a pump track did not come from the committee, but from a local resident. The idea gained the support of the committee and I hope that support continues.
It’s interesting to observe the primary objections to the pump track and read these in conjunction with the HVA minutes from yesteryear. Anti-social behaviour, vandalism, parking issues, noise, litter and cycling in the Rec have been issues in the Recreation Ground going back years. The May 2005 HVA minutes report that a car was vandalised and the windscreen wiper snapped off. These problems are not new and will not get worse or go away because of a pump track or any other facility built within the Recreation Ground. Only those engaging in these activities change and that behaviour has become more blatant, due to the lack of policing. One has to reflect on the fact that some of those teenagers engaging in vandalism and anti-social behaviour 15 years ago, are parents now, with children approaching the teenager stage.
Personally, I think the pump track will be a great addition to the Recreation Ground. On balance, I believe the area behind the all weather pitch is the right location for the pump track. It is close to the existing play area, allowing parents with younger children to play there, whilst still keeping an eye on older children on the pump track. The pump track will allow toddlers to learn to ride their scooters and balance bikes, whilst their older counterparts are at school. It will allow older children to gain confidence in riding bicycles in a safe, dedicated space, whilst being outdoors and exercising. Teenagers will gain the same benefit, rather than tearing around the existing footpaths, as is currently the situation. No one is going to sit on top of a berm, smoking their marijuana, at the back of the all weather pitch, with bicycles around them, whilst footballers, park and dog walkers are in the area. They would prefer to be in the woods behind the old bowling green, out of sight. I would opine that the pump track on the bowling green will lead to an increase in this behaviour. Those smoking their marijuana will have somewhere to congregate and an easy escape route into the woods, should the police ever take an interest. Where there are concerns for residents on Hawkenbury Close about overlooking and noise, these can be addressed with strategic planting of trees and hedges, further improving the Recreation Ground. The proposed location has taken these concerns into account. Napier Road is already well shielded by the mature oaks within the Recreation Ground and these trees remain.
In our current situation, we need to be encouraging active means of transport such as cycling and walking. This starts with building children’s confidence on their bicycles and a pump track will provide this space, freeing up some of our pathways for those that prefer to walk.
I hope that the Recreation Ground gets its pump track and that it is built behind the all weather pitch and I will continue to support the HVA and the council in getting it done.
PS I believe the newsletters and minutes are all published on the HVA website, if anyone wanted to verify any of the facts above.