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Housing association criticised for sealing off ancient woodland used by children as a bike park

30 Jun 2024 3 minute read
A child on a bike in Garw Wood.

Twm Owen, local democracy reporter

A local resident has hit back at a housing association that has sealed off a woodland after children were using it as bike park.

Bron Afon housing association branded the use of the ancient woodland for riding bikes as vandalism and “anti-social behaviour”.

But Robin Willis said youngsters had cleared Garw Wood – which runs between homes in a densely populated area of Croesyceiliog, in Cwmbran – of rubbish so they could use if for riding their bikes

Overgrown

He said: “It was overgrown and full of brambles and has been for decades and a group of local kids have gone in over the last three weekends and cleared it and made a little bike track, it’s only 200 or 300 yards.

“The area was overgrown and people have used it for a shortcut and the boys have cleared rubbish out of there. They had four black bags of rubbish out of there and there were cans, glass and plastic bottles.”

Mr Willis, who lives close to the woodland, said his children, aged nine and 10, could hear the boys riding their bikes and he was happy for them to join with them.

“My boys heard them playing over the fence and they were all well mannered boys. I got speaking to them, realised I knew their parents and I had no problem with my boys playing with them.”

Mr Willis said he also cooked food for all the boys on Sunday and has a photograph showing a blag back, laden with rubbish, hanging from a den made with fallen branches.

Metal gates

Bron Afon placed metal gates at the entrance to Garw Wood this week after it said it had been contacted by “concerned local residents groups” on Monday, June 24 and said “severe damage” had been caused as bark had been removed from some mature trees. It said the trees may never recover as a result.

It also said it was concerned about the use of area for riding bikes and the creation of ramps.

It said while the ramps may not “inherently harm the woodland associated activities and lack of proper planning can lead to negative consequences”. That includes damage to trees and soil disturbance if creating ramps involves digging up earth that could disturb the “delicate eco system of the ancient woodland” and destroy flowers including bluebells.

It also said “increased human activity can disturb wildlife habitats, scare away animals, and disrupt natural processes”.

Litter

Bron Afon claimed its grounds maintenance team cleared “large amounts of litter (bottle, cans and other litter)” from Garw Wood this week and said there was “no evidence of any being cleared”.

It also said it has been maintaining the area. A spokesman said: “The woodland is part of a regular inspection regime carried out by Bron Afon and regular woodland management has been carried out by Bron Afon and local resident groups over the past five to 10 years to encourage natural regeneration and growth of wild flowers, especially the bluebells.”


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Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
14 days ago

Gwarthus. Mae rhai o’r Cymdeithasau Tai hyn yn ddinistiol iawn i Gymru. Codi nythod dryw o dai bitw bach heb le i gael bwrdd ynddynt a chyda dim ond hances boced o ardd. Hwyluso gwladychu’r Fro Gymraeg, a rŵan hyn – rhwystro plant rhag chwarae.

Paul ap Gareth
Paul ap Gareth
14 days ago

Squirrels can remove bark from trees, so that is not automatically the fault of the cyclists.

See the UK Government’s guide. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/64f1c257fdc5d1000d2849a5/WMM_grey_squirrel_deer_damage_visual_guide_Aug_23_1.pdf

Erisian
Erisian
14 days ago

A quick glance across the Atlantic at HOAs should give us all pause for thought.

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
14 days ago

This is a terrible decision from Bron Afon housing association. There are far too many children are sat on couches glued to small screens. The children at the heart of this article should be commended and encouraged for what they have done and be given the freedom to continue.

Ifangoch
Ifangoch
14 days ago

No doubt the same local residents will now be complaining about children riding their bikes on the pavement and playing in the streets during the forthcoming school holidays.

Richard Thomas
Richard Thomas
13 days ago

The kids probably have the right idea but not quite the right implementation. Really we need proper facilities for them in the parks. I know of one town where a council provided BMX tracks and skate ramps, despite some locals saying it was a waste of money, and the local kids now use them and don’t vandalise them because they appreciate having something they can use for themselves.

Daniel Pitt
Daniel Pitt
13 days ago

Bron Afon should put their money where their mouth is and provide a cycling area for the local kids. If they don’t, we can safely assume they’re just anti-children. NIMBY pests.

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