Fine Gael Councillor Frank Quinlan says that there is a serious danger of someone hurting themselves, particularly young children, should issues regarding scrambler and quadbike use at land between St. John’s Park and the Grange.
Raising the issue at the April Metropolitan District Meeting of Waterford City & County Council, Cllr. Quinlan said the issue is so prevalent that there are now ramps in the fields, with children as young as six biking at high speeds.
“It’s a free for all and it’s very very dangerous, there are children seemingly as young as six and seven years of age on quadbikes in these fields and they’re bringing them in on trailers and trucks and on jeeps and it’s a very very serious situation”, said Cllr. Quinlan.
Cllr. Quinlan questioned whether or not the land was owned by Waterford Council, with Fianna Fail Councillor Adam Wyse noting that when Gardai attended the site, they were informed that those in use of the land had the permission of the landowner to do so. Cllr. Wyse spoke to the landowner in question, who told him that such was not the case.
Director of Services at Waterford City & County Council, Mr. Fergus Galvin, in response to Cllr. Quinlan’s initial query noted that the land was not under the ownership of the Council and they as a result had no responsibility in addressing the issue.
“It would really be a matter for the private owners of those fields to secure them to fence them off properly to ensure there’s gates and whatnot to prevent trespassing.”
Speaking on WLR FM on the issue, Cllr. Quinlan said that the trail which has been established on the lands is attracting many people to the area.
“Scramblers and quads are being used by young children and teenagers and driven at high speeds. The green area is very popular with walkers and there are unwanted gatherings being created and there’s tension as a result of the high speeds of the bikes. It’s only a matter of time before someone gets seriously hurt. There are ramps being built and designed for use by these young kids. It’s very dangerous.”
Legislation was brought in last week by the Minister for Transport regarding the stopping of mechanically-propelled vehicles on private and public lands without the permission of the requisite landowner. The land in question in this case is currently owned by the HSE as part of the Primary Care Centre.
Having gotten in touch with the relevant landowners, Cllr. Quinlan received a response which noted sorrow that residents are being troubled as a result of the biking trail.
“We have only become aware of this most recently and have requested that HSE Estates confirm our exact land boundaries in the area with a view of establishing the level of encroachment on HSE land. Local management have been requested to advise the Community Gardai that the HSE does not condone any activity which may be occurring on our land or whereby our land may be used to access non-HSE land to engage in upsetting activity.”
HSE Estates have since sought a meeting date with Waterford Council engineers on how best to address the matter. In the meantime, they have reiterated their displeasure to the Gardai, who will speak with the participants and dissuade them from taking part in such activity on privately owned lands.
“I don’t want to be a spoilsport”, noted Cllr. Quinlan.
“I’m sure a lot of people that use these motocross vehicles use them as a pastime and an interest, but it has to be done in a legal and safe manner in a suitable area.”