Peaks ‘Mecca for bikers’ will become ghost town if council pushes them out

Courtesy Chris Taylor.

Courtesy Chris Taylor.

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At least 2,000 motorcyclists from around the country have vowed to descend on Matlock Bath against council plans which they say are pushing bikers out of the village.

They warn that proposed parking charges which emerged days ago will ‘kill’ trade, as the thousands of motorcyclists who travel through the village each year are a major tourist attraction, and proposed plans will drive them out for good.

* 2,400 Bikers signed up for rideout, hoping to thwart parking plans

* ‘Mecca for Bikers’ could disappear altogether

There is even a suggestion to boycott Matlock Bath traders on the day’s ride-out, set for early next year, to show the impact that losing the bikers will have on the village.

The village, known to many as a ‘Mecca’ for bikers, has strong history as a stopping point for motorcyclists going back almost a century. The local tourist economy was built on the attractive spot’s appeal to day-trippers, and now has a reputation for hits many chip-shops, pubs and arcades along the riverside promenande, earning it the tile ‘Derbyshire-on-sea’.

Bikers are up in arms after proposed plans to charge for parking in Matlock Bath have emerged. They say authorities are trying to push bikers out, which could make the village suffer the consequences. Image courtesy Chris Taylor.

Bikers are up in arms after proposed plans to charge for parking in Matlock Bath have emerged. They say authorities are trying to push bikers out, which could make the village suffer the consequences. Image courtesy Chris Taylor.

Now the bikers and local traders have warned that this could be under threat, as the news of the charges comes a few months after the Matlock Mercury reported exactly how important bikers were to the village.

Read more: Matlock Bath: a Mecca for Bikers

Youtube: Matlock ride-out, August 2015 by Nick Johnson

Anthony Clark, who owns Charles Restaurant in North Parade, said: “It will kill Matlock Bath.

Chris Thompson and members of the Midlands Riders, who are organising the 'Save Matlock Bath' ride. So far 2,400 people are signed up.

Chris Thompson and members of the Midlands Riders, who are organising the 'Save Matlock Bath' ride. So far 2,400 people are signed up.

“If they want to shut down the village, then carry on and we’ll all lose our businesses. Lots of bikers I’ve spoken to say when this comes in they wont come back.”

But it is not just the bikers the town will lose, he added.

“As far as I’m concerned it’s the bikers that draw the people in. They actually come here to wander up the road and look at the bikes. When there’s no bikers around there’s no people around. We need that attraction and that’s what the bikers are.”

It was rider Chris Thompson, who says Matlock Bath has a particularly special place in his heart, that launched the campaign.

Business owner Anthony Clark says bikers are hugely valuable to Matlock Bath.

Business owner Anthony Clark says bikers are hugely valuable to Matlock Bath.

For him, the planned ‘Save Matlock Bath’ ride in March is a becessary bid to show local authorities how serious this proposed change will be for the area, and while charges are set to start at only 50p per hour for bikes, that’s enough to push away bikers for good.

He added: “These plans would turn Matlock Bath into a ghost town.”

The business owner, 28, from Telford in Shropshire, set up the group on Facebook to counter the plans as soon as he heard there was a proposal, and he was amazed by the quick response from the biking community.

He said: “Everyone has hit the roof - literally overnight it doubled and now we’re at over 1,500 who are joining the ride.

“Everyone’s got their own reasons for loving Matlock Bath. People have been posting about how their parents used to come, so it goes back years and years. I know one guy who grew up in the area and has move down south now but he’s still going to come and support us because of how special Matlock Bath is to him.”

Earlier in the year he organised a ride to Matlock Bath to honour a friend who sadly died in a crash.

“Matlock Bath was the one place he never rode to and really wanted to, so we did that for him, and now it has that special significant to us,” added Chris.

So as changes to parking times, described as ‘curfews’, are also proposed, Chris said they are more than just a plea for more council funds, and motorcyclists are being shoved out of their beloved stopping point entirely.

“I think they want to push the bikers out,” he added.

“There’s this image that bikers have all been tarnished with by the media, that we’re ‘hooligans of the road’.”

Separately a petition by Alfreton rider John Hopkin has attracted the support of over 3,000 people.

John said: “I go down Matlock Bath a lot these days and sit watching the young kids coming past looking at the bikes and seeing there faces light up just like mine must have done all them years back. I am now in a motorcycle club and I know that if the council start charging for bikes to park they will stop coming and go else where. A lot of people only come to see the bikes, so if they stopped coming it would kill the trade and Matlock would become a ghost town.”

The proposal by Derbyshire County Council to charge for parking in Matlock Bath is currently under consultation, following a similar plan in 2012. Then, it was abandoned by the county council after 6,500 opponents petitioned against it, with the authority allegedly fearing the loss of trade would be too great.

The charges were proposed by cabinet member for highways, Dean Collins.

He said: “We feel that introducing pay and display parking in Matlock Bath will help increase visitor numbers to the village which will in turn help the local traders. At the moment you can only park for an hour on Dale Road, which doesn’t give people much time to walk back into the village.

“We are proposing to charge for parking for up to two hours on North Parade and South Parade, at the moment vehicles can only stay for one hour. Visitors on motorbikes are an important part of the Matlock Bath economy, under the proposals they can park for longer and we are proposing that they pay 50p an hour.”

The online response to the news has been huge from bikers all over the country.

John Swift, from Worksop in Nottinghamshire, said: “I enjoy going down in summer on bikes and to see all the bikes and it makes a good day out. No need to spoil it by the council lining their own pockets.”

And Margaret Chouhan, of Nottingham, said: “Folk are already writing Matlock Bath off as a no-go area. It’s always been a bikers place and tourists come to see the bikes.”

Consultation is open until January 21, 2016.

FOR AND AGAINST:

The bikers say:

Amanda Roper from Matlock said: “We should be encouraging visitors to come to Matlock Bath not drive them away!!”

Mark Haworth from Belper said: “Bikers are a fundamental heartbeat of Matlock Bath.”

Louise West said: “On a practical note, where are the bikes supposed to display the ticket to prevent it being blown away or nicked by someone else?”Biker Brinnig Jones, from Nottingham said: “Maybe it’s pushing people out, or maybe it’s a money making exercise. But there are places where bikes don’t pay like London, Oxford, Cardiff, Nottingham, Edinburgh... and they want us to pay in Matlock Bath?”

Tina Goddard from Chesterfield said: “I’m not a biker but I like to go to Matlock Bath just to look at all the bikes. They are a big part of the attraction.

Beverley Barlow said: “The parade of bikes parked up has always been an icon of Matlock.”

The opponents say:

Katie Louise Moore: “Having working there for years, I think that it’s actually a good idea. We’ve seen people park on the roadside all day and other cars have driven away because there’s nowhere to park.”

Joan Tollerfield: “They scare the hell but of me with their racket. I only go there when there are less bikes about. I’d much rather hear the sounds of the birds thank you. They think they own Matlock Bath.”

John Edge said: “Matlock bath is awful in he summer. Full of leather heads on their stupid bikes.”