Dozens of angry dirt bike riders turned out to protest against a police crackdown on “nuisance bikers” riding around a former Worksop pit.
The bikers say they intend to keep using the Manton Pit Top site, despite warnings from Nottinghamshire Police that “more robust action” may be taken should they keep riding there “illegally”.
There was no police presence at the protest on Sunday, January 22, but officers are “assessing the situation” after receiving complaints bikers have been riding around Manton Pit Top in a dangerous manner and causing damage.
The bikers maintain they have been riding their bikes peacefully at the site for decades - and their Facebook campaign is still growing after being backed by 2,000 members within 24 hours of its launch.
Stephen Jackson, who is heading the campaign, said: “We are not backing down and just going to ‘go away’.
“The number of people who are protesting and joining our campaign is testament to that.
“I have been riding at Manton Pit Top since the 1970s and I now take my children there, as many of us do.
“It keeps them active and ensures they’re not just sat behind a computer screen all day.
“The claims we are riding around dangerously and causing damage are ridiculous.
“It is an old pit tip and there is nothing there to damage and we are always courteous to anyone who might be walking around.
“We are not backing off any time soon.”
Commenting on the ‘Worksop fighting back for bike track’ Facebook page, Worksop resident Rachel Hoyland said: “We walk our dogs on a regular basis at Manton Pit and I have to say that when we have seen bikers on there they have either changed their direction or gone past us slowly and carefully. I would much rather see bikes up there than the burnt-out cars that have recently been spotted. “There is enough space for everyone.”
Claire Linacre posted: “It’s lovely to see the little ones on their quads laughing and enjoying themselves, all supervised with helmets on.
“It’s surely better than being stuck in front of a computer screen.”
However, some residents who live nearby insist the bikers are damaging the conservation of the site and causing potential danger.
Mike King, of Friends of Manton Pit Wood, said: “A lot of people work at Manton Wood doing conservation work, including volunteers with Nottinghamshire County Council, local schools and the probation service.
“None of them like to see their efforts damaged by off-road bikers.
“It is no longer an old pit tip, but a thriving wildlife site with lots of animals and flowers.
“A lot of public money has been spent restoring the site, but now money and time has to be spent repairing the borders and removing the many stolen, burnt-out cars left up there.
John Scott, of Coleridge Road, Worksop, said: “It’s only a matter of time before there is an accident involving a walker and one of the bikes.
“Myself and many other residents wish the bikers all the best and hope they do get an official track – I think it would be a great addition to Worksop.
“However, Manton Pit Top is a beautiful area that needs preserving.
“Pensioners along with children and their parents often walk around it for exercise. “Dirt bikes and the public just do not mix.”
A Nottinghamshire Police spokesman said: “Manton Pit Top is Nottinghamshire County Council land.
“The council has made it clear that the land should not be used for this purpose.
“Due to complaints received regarding the illegal use of Manton Pit Top, locally known as the Sand-Bowl and the dangerous manner in which riders were using their bikes and quads members of the Worksop Neighbourhoods Team were tasked with assessing the current situation.
“During the initial assessment is was clear the land itself had been damaged along with fencing to the site and signage clarifying that the land is not for the use of motorbikes.
“We will continue to assess the situation in the short- term to establish if a more robust approach is required.”