Proposed rules anger bike club

Hands off . . . Lawrence Gymkhana Club president Paul Wilson stands at the right of a group demonstrating the depth of support from local families for the facility’s motocross track, on Saturday. PHOTO: JOHN COSGROVE

A stoush is brewing in Lawrence due to complaints about noise regulation at a long›standing community motocross track.
The Clutha District Council has proposed restrictions on the hours and days the Lawrence Gymkhana Club Motocross Track can be used, as part of its draft Lawrence›Tuapeka Reserve management plan, now out for consultation.
Lawrence›Tuapeka ward councillor Mel Foster said the proposals (see page 2) were included after the council received several complaints about noise at the Wetherstons Rd facility.
But supporters of the track, which sits on the council›owned Tuapeka Recreation Reserve, and is managed by the Lawrence Gymkhana Club, say the proposals were made without consulting the club, and would unfairly impede its use.
Gymkhana club president Paul Wilson said the council’s approach was ‘‘heavy›handed’’ and matters could more easily have been resolved through dialogue at an early stage of planning.
‘‘The facility has been here for 50 years and, during that time, we’ve received only one noise issue raised by a local, recently, which we believed resolved to everybody’s satisfaction.
‘‘As regards this latest proposal, we’ve had not one communication from council, and the first we heard about it was when the [draft plan] came out.
‘‘This is a community›owned, community›run facility, enjoyed by dozens of local families and their kids. It’s zoned rural and, to be honest, we’re pretty annoyed at how this has been handled.’’
Mr Wilson said the recent formation of the Lawrence Bike Club, to oversee use of the facility, meant only locals now had easy access to the track, helping reduce noise from excessive use by visitors.
The track was used sometimes by two›times women’s world motocross champion Courtney Duncan, and also hosted holiday activity camps for local children, Mr Wilson said.
‘‘It would affect the whole community if it were to be cut back as proposed.’’
Cr Foster said she had personally heard concerns from ‘‘about a dozen’’ people recently about the lack of regulation of opening times at the track.
She said the council had also received formal complaints regarding the facility, although she was unable to specify how many.
However, she emphasised the proposals in the draft plan were a ‘‘starting point’’ only.
‘‘Council staff have included an example of opening hours as a starting point for discussion. This has caused some backlash from the newly formed Lawrence Bike Club, who have put in the work to develop the track and feel they have been unfairly targeted.
‘‘There is no question the track is of benefit to the community and many generations have enjoyed using it.
‘‘I understand from speaking to some residents that they were quite happy with the arrangements before, and it was only over the last summer where the noise issue became a significant one.
‘‘The track is being used with some intensity, and is now being frequented for much longer periods during the weekend.’’
She said local residents wanted clarity about the bike club’s expected use of the track.
‘‘They have no idea how long the track will be used each day, and they would like to have some time in their backyards, over the weekends in particular, when they can be guaranteed no noise.’’
Cr Foster said she hoped a ‘‘middle ground’’ could be found.
‘‘I am hoping to get the opportunity to meet up with the club to talk through some practical solutions to the issues raised that is fair to both parties.’’