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Councillor caught up in off-road bikers row

01 Apr 2023 3 minute read
Conwy County Council’s Cllr Andrew Wood.

Richard Evans, local democracy reporter

An Abergele councillor claims a vindictive crusade is being led to discredit him.

Cllr Andrew Wood has denied claims he has ridden his motorbike through the woods behind Gwyrch Castle and encouraged others to do so.

Earlier this week, Cllr Wood called off-road bikers ‘hooligans’ after complaints from residents about scramblers speeding through forest and damaging woodland between Abergele and Rhyd y Foel.

But Cllr Wood, a retired motorcycle shop owner, has since faced accusations that he rides motorbikes off-road through the woods and tells others to do the same.

Speaking exclusively to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Cllr Wood claimed he is the victim of a vindictive campaign.

“It is absolutely fabricated by people trying to discredit me,” said Cllr Wood.

“I’ve never ever encouraged people to take their motorbikes to Gwyrch Castle or the woods. I tell them they are not to go up there because it is not a place for motorised vehicles.

“I do not ‘tear’ around the castle area and haven’t done in the last 25 or maybe 30 years when it used to be open. There is a vindictive crusade against me. The only thing I’ve ridden up there is my electric push bike with my dog. I go up there regularly. I don’t ride a motorbike up there.”

Logging roads

Whilst Cllr Wood admits to riding on the old logging roads through the woods years ago, he is adamant he hasn’t used an off-road bike in the woods.

Cllr Wood claims he is being discredited because he has issued several public rights of way notices, applying to the council to open footpaths for the public on privately-owned land.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service understands parts of the woods have been closed off for a number of years due to Covid and the I’m a Celebrity TV show. But the forest is owned by numerous landowners, including the Welsh Government and the castle’s charitable trust.

“I’ve ridden there in the 90s, but that’s when there was a track all the way through, on the old logging roads,” he said.

“We never scrambled up there. These were road-legal bikes. We parked up, not in the woods, and had a cup of tea or a butty. But we never ‘tore’ around the woods.”

He added: “I’ve very broad shoulders. I know exactly what is happening. I know what the campaign is trying to do, and so do the rest of the people in Abergele.”

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