Give kids an off-road outlet

I write in response to recent reports regarding the Langford residents protests at the proposed youth off-road motorcycle facility. I think it is important that the perspective of the children involved in this sport is also offered. I and many other peop

I write in response to recent reports regarding the Langford residents' protests at the proposed youth off-road motorcycle facility.

I think it is important that the perspective of the children involved in this sport is also offered. I and many other people who enjoy this activity are angry at the treatment and heavy handedness shown and supported by authorities. Many media and council reports depict all off-road riders as misery-causing thugs whose sole intention is to cause upset to all, this is totally unfounded.

Firstly, I totally agree with removing from the roads, streets and public areas, the illegal motorcycles and helmetless riders causing antisocial and dangerous behaviour. This is no different from illegal car users and should be dealt with accordingly. But the police are now being forced to target anyone with an off road motorcycle no matter whom or where they are, dare I mention the cost of the police helicopter chasing 13-year-olds? With the reduced resources the police suffer is it any surprise that they cannot respond to 'real crimes' any more?

All sports cause disruption and noise in one way or another. How many football matches do you know that don't have crowd noise or fill the streets with cars? It would be unthinkable to call all football supporters loud anti-social hooligans yet all off-roaders are being branded with the same brush. Every other sport imaginable has council run operations, golfers have golf courses, footballers have pitches, tennis, cricket, swimmers, walkers, bowlers, and the list is endless, all with 'given' facilities. Motocross is a well supported sport and growing.

All these people are asking for seems to be a few acres where the sport can be practised safely and legally (which they have found and are willing to pay for). Not all are able to travel the 25-plus miles to find a privately run commercial track. When the novice doesn't get to these tracks and pays the expensive entrance fee they frequently find the tracks far too advanced and intimidating for children new to the sport.

Cracking down on the riders is all well and good as long as alternatives are offered. It's not good enough to shout the 'not on my doorstep' chant in one breath then attack the police for doing nothing to stop youth related crime in the next.

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This project's approach is proven to be an effective means of reducing youth crime and disorder; it also provides an exciting positive alternative to drugs and alcohol. I urge the council leaders to take the rational approach when considering this group's fine proposal.

If there is 'genuine and irresolvable' reason why this location should be refused there must be council operated or influenced land that could be converted into a track or facilities for this sport.

Sean McGrath, Address supplied

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