A bid to create a new facility for youths in Bradda Glen, Port Erin, moved a step forward after the local authority lent its support to the scheme and an appeal was made for those interested in the scheme to come together and drive it forward.
Rushen Youth Action Group is behind the idea and group member Rushen MHK Laurence Skelly said: ‘We had a letter from Port Erin commissioners supporting it in principle, a BMX track and skatepark, and they will do all they can to see this is delivered.’
The group was first formed in July to identify projects that can be developed for young people in the parish.
At the November 20 meeting, the local authority also decided its representative on the group would be new commissioner Barbara Guy.
When the authority last discussed the idea in public, in August, some commissioners expressed reservations about whether Bradda Glen was the right place as its isolation could attract anti-social behaviour and create problems with access if there is an accident in an inherently risky sport.
Commissioners were also worried about the suggestion this is a ‘temporary’ facility that could be there for five years, until the land at Ballakilley is available.
The land at Ballakilley, between Port Erin and Rushen, is earmarked for recreational use, and the split between the allocation of the land for housing and sporting use has been debated at length.
The final say on its designation will be included in the Southern Area Plan – the Department of Infrastructure is still considering representations made about the draft area plan and no date has been established for the release of the final plan.
Commissioners’ chairman Ged Power said: ‘There needs to be more people discussing exactly where is the right place. Bradda is a viable option.
‘It’s great that we have got a lot of people in the area taking a very positive interest in the proposal of bringing a BMX track to the south of the island. One of the areas is Bradda – it has got the advantage of space and is already an area designated for mountain biking, it’s used by mountain bikers regularly with the support of the department.
He added: ‘When you have people heading to Ramsey week in week out from all parts of the island, there is a very good reason to have a track to hold events.
‘Ramsey’s track has been there since the mid 1980s, it is one of the most visited facilities in the Isle of Man. I would rather be looking at the positives rather than the negatives.
‘We cannot make decisions based on what might happen, antisocial behaviour or accidents – we have got to hold back on that when the public want an answer sooner rather than later, we need to move on this.
‘We have got to identify the best place and what will fit in with everyone.’
As the glen is owned by the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture, the department and its minister Phil Gawne (Rushen MHK, who is also on the group) are considering ‘detailed proposals for the location,’ said Mr Skelly.
He revealed that, so far, the scheme has garnered a lot of support.
‘We have had a lot of offers from various different sources, charitable to individuals to companies to build, design and fundraise,’ he said. ‘We are not looking at any money until we can see what we are doing, we want the body [managing the facility] to create and formulate detailed proposals – we need to see how we go about achieving that.
‘Bradda can be anywhere from the cafe to Milner’s Tower and anything in between – we have identified an appropriate site.’
The next step, explained Mr Skelly, is for the public to step forward. ‘
‘We now need parents and interested people to come forward and form a club to manage and maintain this facility if it becomes a reality,’ he said.
For more information, see Rushen Youth Action Group’s page on Facebook, or contact any of the Rushen MHKs directly,