South Shields dad launches petition to bring BMX pump track to South Tyneside

A petition to bring a BMX track to South Tyneside has garnered support from hundreds in its first few days.

Thursday, 23rd January 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 23rd January 2020, 6:15 am

Josh Whiting, of Westoe Crown Village in South Shields, took up BMX racing with his children, aged 12 and six, last year but the family currently have to travel outside the borough to practice.

Now the dad-of-two is campaigning to have a BMX pump track installed in South Tyneside, a move he says would bring people to the area and encourage kids to get active outdoors.

“Skate parks are always packed out with kids especially when the weather is good, from little ones right through to teenagers,” said the 37-year-old.

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Supporters of the BMX track petition meet at the old track at Temple Park

“It would get them off the Xbox and out into the park enjoying themselves and would keep them focused and fit – it’s only boredom that gets them into trouble.”

Josh believes there are several outdoor spaces that would work in the borough, but Temple Memorial Park - the site of a former BMX track in the 1980s - would be ideal.

“There are loads of potential open spaces but Temple Park has the space, history and the facilities there already,” said Josh, who is hoping to put a committee together and submit the petition to the council.

He added: “We had over 200 signatures in 48 hours and other parents have said how much of a good idea it would be.”

Josh Whiting (L) with Gerald New of Tyneside Outdoors meet at the old BMX track at Temple Park.

Josh also has the backing of youth organisation Tyneside Outdoors, who previously ran a project teaching young people about the heritage of Temple Park’s lost dirt track.

Gerard New, youth and community worker at Tyneside Outdoors commented: “We're really pleased to see Josh's petition getting support from local people. We spoke to parents at our Big Bike Revival events in Temple Park last summer and many of them were asking for more bike activities to be provided for children and young people in the area.

“The addition of a BMX track in the borough would be a great boost for young people as it not only provides physical activity but is great fun too, which we know is beneficial to good mental health. Having something in South Tyneside would mean we don't have to travel to North Shields to the nearest pump track or to Bedlington or Hartlepool for BMX track events.”

Tyneside Outdoors have even offered to help source funding for the track, which they say would be easy to maintain and place little burden on the council.

Josh Whiting (centre) with supporters of the petition at the old track in Temple Park.

Gerard continued: “It shouldn't need to cost the council anything. British Cycling's new Cycling Facilities Fund could help with some of the costs and we'd be more than happy to help raise funds from other sources to enable a track to be built. Local bike clubs like Temple Raiders could maintain the track, meaning the council needs to do almost nothing at all.”

South Tyneside Green Party Councillor for the Beacon and Bents ward, David Francis has also expressed his support for the initiative, he said: “Anything that gets young people outside and active is a good thing in my opinion. I know there are people who have to travel to other places to do these activities, so anything that can draw more people to the borough is a positive thing, and it seems there is a decent amount of people who would support that.”

One of those is Temple Raiders rider Ryan Dobson, 13, who added: "It’s a good idea because it gets kids out on their bikes or off the roads and it helps with health and global warming."

Youngsters at the old BMX track at Temple Park
Supporters of the petition for a new BMX track at the old track in Temple Park.