Further woes for Lee Quarry

by Barney Marsh 11

Lee Quarry's Mountain BIke Rangers singletrack magazine
Lee Quarry

Well, we guess it’s hardly surprising after the 2015 Lee Quarry had – first of all it seems that cutbacks threatened the closure of the place all together and then Boxing Day happened. So it comes as pretty much no surprise to hear that the brand spanking trail-head that was mooted more than a year ago has seemingly gone the way of the dodo. And no, it’s not been eaten by naturalists.

Post-boxing day. Not pretty.

In a story by Rossendale Free Press it appears that negotiations have ground to a halt between the two parties involved, Rawtenstall-based Ride-On and Rossendale Council officials.

Lee Quarry sculpt stage 1
In happier times

Original holdups appear to have revolved around health and safety issues; essentially Ride-On need a clean plot of land on which to build, and they felt that this was not being provided by the council. Rossendale Free Press estimates that scheme was estimated to be worth up to £1 million a year to the local economy.

There is a Countryside Services Consultation survey by Lancashire County Council in place which aims to gather views on how funds are allocated henceforth – if you care about the trail centre perhaps it might be worth spending the time to fill it out? There are no easy answers though – the Council apparently needs to save a further £262 million on top of previous savings. Which is hardly chump-change.

All in all, it’s not a good time for Lee Quarry right now. It seems like Bacup needs a miracle to keep its trail centre.

Comments (11)

  1. The quarry will still be there long after we won’t. Somehow I’ve managed to struggle through a ride or 1,000 without needing a “trailhead”

  2. Dave360 – but you’ve contributed nothing to the local economy by doing so. You park for free, ride up there for free and drive home again. Unless you seek out a pub or butty shop on the way home, there’s precious little to be gained from your presence for the local area – which isn’t exactly Wilmslow.

  3. Sad news, and why any of us wouldn’t want facilities is baffling. It’s not all about us, kids, beginners, schools groups etc. all benefit from such facilities.

    Surely this place has a big enough catchment to have a facility that would thrive?.

  4. The problem is that these local authority trails were built from a Cap-Ex budget (that probably had to be spent) and were planned before the financial crisis. They are now maintained from a different fund that has more than likely vanished. Philips Park in Bury had £125k (IIRC) spent on it to build 4 km of Red trails and £0.00 to spend on looking after them. When the trials went in there were 10 Park Rangers and now there are 0 Park Rangers.

    No local authority is going to put any money soon into these places. Personally I suspect that they would rather not have them at all in the current climate. Also, what private investor is going to fund a trail head when there will be no quick return on the investment? And even if they wanted to who would lend them the money?

    I’m relatively local to Lee and Philips is on my doorstep. If they were privately run I wouldn’t spend any money in Philips and at Lee they would get the cost of my car park fee. This isn’t out of spite or being mean spirited, I just wouldn’t need to do it. I can go for a 90 minute ride without the need for a cake and a brew. Unless you are a large “destination” trail centre I suspect that the business model just doesn’t work. Putting toilets and a café in somewhere like this will probably lose money more than make it.

    These places will be just left to go wild. We will still be able to ride them but don’t expect any facilities or maintenance.

  5. yeah, but Lee Quarry hasn’t got a wicked witch like Philips has.

  6. …which is why nothing will happen, the trails will go back to nature and the council will be able to wipe their hands of the whole affair.

  7. Be interesting to know what the “H&S” issues are associated with the reclaimed land. If it’s ground contamination then cover the site with building and hard-surfaces usually breaks any linkage to potential receptors and so it’s physically practical to develop. It’s a risk based approach and something which, during legal / contractual negotiations can have a disproportionate effect (lawyers tend to like absolutes on behalf of their clients, IME).

    Also the “trailhead” was more a shop with add-ons I thought? Probably more likely to be successful at Lee where the trail draw is OK but hardly comparable to the Stanes etc. I agree with Dave a trail (or a ride) doesn’t *have* to have them but they can, sometimes, make a positive contribution.

    Whatever, I like Craig and Ride-On and a shame something that might have been a key thing to keeping momentum and engagement in the Quarry and trails seems to be stumbling, if not falling through.

  8. 60m jackpot tmrow…

  9. I’ve only ridden Lee Quarry once. Bizarrely, as I attended a funeral in Manchester during a cold November, and took the opportunity to grab a remote ride while I was in the area (rip Mike, thanks for the ride bud) It wasn’t the best ride I ever had, but the plaques and info on the miners who worked there years before will stay with me long after the memory of the ride has dissipated. Total respect; thems some harsh working conditions up on that hill. Sometimes a ride offers more than just the trails we ride across.

  10. I’ve been quite close to this so can unpick some of the points above. The H & S issues aren’t, they are building issues. The site is ex industrial, if when digging the foundations they hit a pocket of tannery waste or asbestos the build costs rocket. Ride On in Rawtenstall which is already a successful business wants new premises and had funding in place to build the trail head (shop, cafe / lounge area, workshop and classrooms). It all fell apart when the local council failed to prove the decontamination of the site had been done properly (3.5 million of Northwest development agency money wasted), they lost the cleanup reports and then they refusecd to underwrite the risk of the construction costs spiralling if contamination was found. The council has also changed, basically the original planwas to lease the site to Ride On for a nominal amount as the land is worthless. In this situation it should have cost the council nothing and a private business business would have funded the regeneration of a liabilty and then brought additional revenue into Bacup. The council stuffed it up and to cover this up the cganged the goal posts and instead of under writing the risk of redevelope they now want to build (an inferior) trailhead and lease it back ata riculous price. The incompetance of the council and waste of tax payers money ranges from incompetant through negligence to practicallycriminal.

  11. “The incompetence of the council and waste of tax payers money ranges from incompetent through negligence to practically criminal”

    agreed, its a country wide problem, petty, bureaucratic and incompetent. Worse no one is ever accountable

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