Local BMX riders officially won their battle to save the trails at Levetts Wood when responsibility for the site was finally placed in their hands.
The future of the Levetts Wood trails was in doubt earlier this year after RoSPA branded parts of the course “extremely dangerous.”
Now landowner Rother District Council has handed care of them over to local riders after carrying out extensive safety improvements.
Sidley Woods Locals, a group of BMX riders, has a five year lease on a peppercorn rent to operate the site.
Cllr Bob White, RDC’s lead member for Culture, Tourism and Leisure, said: “The BMX trails have been a much-loved attraction for more than 20 years. We couldn’t ignore the safety issues raised by RoSPA, but we felt it was important we didn’t allow such a well-used facility to disappear from Bexhill forever.
“The improvement work we’ve put in and signing over the lease to Sidley Woods Locals means the trails can be enjoyed by generations to come.”
The council carried out works including felling trees and clearing vegetation to improve access and safety, erecting new fencing and signage and installing a new ramp at the start of the course.
Marc Moore, of Sidley Woods Locals, said: “This is one of the oldest BMX trails in the country and people travel from all over the country, and even Europe and the USA, to use it.
“There’s a lot of history to the site and some really big names have ridden there in the past. It’s massively important and there’s nothing like it anywhere around here.
“We have developed a really positive relationship with the council and it’s great they have invested money in the trails. This is really good news for BMX riders.”
BMX veteran Ricky Bollington, also of Sidley Woods Locals, was frustrated by delays caused by legal requirements, but was pleased by the number of riders using Levetts Wood trails during the summer.
He has been taking on the task of looking after the jumps and is pleased to encourage young riders who turn up.
He said: “It has been really busy, which is good, and everyone is so happy with it. The kids riding up there really enjoy it. There’s a lot of maintenance I have to do, but I am not doing it for myself, I am doing it for the kids who turn up, to help them out. I hear a lot of their problems, but they come up and are happy on their bikes. It’s a good thing, to put something back into the community. I don’t mind putting myself out – someone did that for me ages ago, and I want to do it now.”
He felt that the council had at first failed to realise the importance of the BMX ‘dirt scene’ in the South East and importance of keeping the trails going, and added: “It is really good, it is developing, and from now it is going to get better. Maybe next year we can hold a jam there which will bring business into Sidley.”