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Investigation into claims Wiggle events in New Forest are breaking law
7:50am Friday 13th December 2013 in News
POLICE have launched an investigation into mass cycling events in the New Forest, it has been revealed.
They are looking into allegations that the controversial Wiggle rides, which have attracted as many as 2,500 entrants, are breaking the law by causing a public nuisance.
The revelation was made at a meeting of the National Park Authority (NPA), which is devising a cycling charter to tackle the issue.
Members complained that cyclists were racing on the public highway, defecating on village greens and shouting abuse at anyone who got in their way.
Maureen Holding said: “I was driving through Brockenhurst at 30mph and was overtaken by cyclists.
“Police say the events aren’t races but the riders are timed and given gold, silver or bronze medals according to how fast they went.
“Some of them go very fast and it’s only a matter of time before an old person is hit by a cycle.
“I’m not anti-cycling but these big, money-making events are getting out of control. The problem has not been managed, it’s simply being looked at in retrospect.”
Oliver Crosthwaite Eyre said the speed and behaviour of the cyclists, coupled with the frequency of the events, was causing “enormous upset” in the Forest.
Members spoke out after being addressed by Peter Roberts, chairman of the New Forest Association.
He said: “The activity is clearly a race, either against the clock or fellow competitors – whatever name is given to it by the commercial organisers.
“A complaint has been submitted to the police regarding public nuisance.”
A 1993 court case was cited, in which a landowner convicted of causing a public nuisance was fined £2,500 with £1,500 costs.
The head of New Forest police, Chief Inspector Tony Rowlinson, said the cycling complaint was being investigated by a senior officer.
He added: “The prosecuting authority is the Crown Prosecution Service and we will look to them for a steer.”
NPA member David Harrison hit out at what he described as the “anti-cycling” stance adopted by some of his colleagues.
He said: “We should be actively promoting and supporting responsible cycling, a much enjoyed, largely peaceful activity that’s a positive for the Forest, not a negative.”
Wiggle organiser Martin Barden was unavailable for comment.
Last month he said he had listened to concerns raised by residents and imposed a 20 per cent cut in the number of cyclists allowed to take part in the 2014 events.
He also confirmed that motorbike marshals would patrol the route and instantly disqualify any rider seen to be behaving badly.
He said: “While we know our events are run 100 per cent within the current guidelines we hope the adjustments will ease any local tensions.”
Organisers of the New Forest Show have banned mass cycling events from using their land at New Park, Brockenhurst, following criticism of the Wiggle rides.
Mr Barden has now asked Fawley Parish Council for permission to use Gang Warily Recreation Ground.
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