A controversial motocross track has been allowed permission to change its operating hours despite strong opposition from residents in surrounding villages.
The 210 Moto Park track at Stanbridge Road, Great Billington first gained planning permission in 1995 and this year has been taken over by new operators.
At Wednesday’s development management committee of Central Beds Council their bid to change the hours to Wednesday, Friday and Saturday (10am till 3pm) and Sunday (10am till 2pm) was voted through 7-5 with one councillor abstaining.
The move has outraged villagers who say the track operators have consistently ignored operating restrictions over the years, with CBC admitting at the meeting there had been breaches and that it didn’t have the resources to keep tabs on the business, particularly during weekends.
Opponents say the new temporary permission, which will only run until September 30, will cause greater disturbance as there will be no respite from the noise because an enforced two-hour lunch break has now been removed. Previously the track use was restricted to Mondays to Saturday (10am-12.30pm and 2.30pm until 5pm) and Sundays/Public Holidays (10am-2pm).
Councillor Marie Brewer, from Eaton Bray Parish Council, told the meeting: “I find our views are being minimised or even ignored by Central Beds Council. Three local parish councils – Eaton Bray, Billington, Stanbridge – and several local people have objected to the proposed changes.
“The hours of operation were put in place to give residents some respite from the noise by having a longer lunch break to make the track less attractive as a commercial venture.
“There should be a good reason to change the hours. The fact the new operators find it incovenient is hardly a good reason.
“They knew the permitted hours when they took the track on in April. They have consistently ignored the permitted hours and operated their preferred hours of 10-3 since April.”
Ahead of the meeting, the CBC officer report stated that if the application was granted “effective enforcement measures are proposed to ensure equivalent protection for local residents”.
However, Cllr Brewer said this offered no reassurance as CBC had failed to control breaches since April.
Cllr Elaine Sutton of Stanbridge Parish Council said a continuous five hours would be more intrusive, and pointed to the officer report which acknowledged the current disturbance for residents.
She also demanded to know how the new hours would be monitored.
Another villager, Mr Brewer, added: “Taking the lunch break out will increase the usage of that track, will increase the noise nuisance, will mean more bikes. You [CBC] will not be able to monitor it.”
The committee was advised that previous breaches of operating hours weren’t grounds for turning down the application.
Committee chairman Cllr Ken Matthews said: “It’s unfortunate we can’t take a breaches of condition into account. I have every sympathy with residents.”
In 2015 the track was given permission to move its operating times from summer to winter (01 October - 30th April) and an increase in the maximum number of bikes on the track from 7 to 18.
That was on the condition that the height of the bunding around the track be increased, which is yet to happen due to negotiations with National Grid over pipelines on the site. However the operators are hoping to resolve that soon.