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Former cabinet minister denies blocking Welsh mountain bike trail

Ron Davies, filmed by a hidden camera, says he was trying to remove obstacles

Ron Davies, who served as Secretary of State for Wales in Tony Blair’s first cabinet, has denied claims he put obstacles on a trail used by mountain bikers, insisting he was trying to remove them instead.

His denial came after video footage from a hidden camera emerged of two men apparently placing logs and rocks on the trail near Caerphilly, the town Mr Davies represented in Parliament from 1993 to 2001.

Initially, Mr Davies, who volunteers for the Caerphilly Woodlands Trust, told BBC Wales that he could not remember which trail the footage, taken on 8 September, was shot on.

Subsequently, however, he told the South Wales Argus: “It is me and now I have had a chance to look in detail, I can identify that it is in an area called The Warren.

“I wasn’t blocking up the path but clearing it for walkers, horse riders and cyclists.”

He continued: “There was a large stone on the left of the path and some brambles on the right hand side.”

The area where the footage was taken is managed by National Resource Wales (NRW) and was sent anonymously to Ian Clarke of Van Road Mountain Bikers.

He told the newspaper: “I don’t know Ron, but from what I have read his story has changed.

"If you look at the footage, the dark strip is the trail and it looks to me that they are putting stuff on that strip, where riders go through, to cause an obstruction.”

He acknowledged that there has been conflict in the past between cyclists and walkers using the trail, saying: “If they were obstructing routes we have agreed not to go down then fair enough.

“But almost a day after our agreement in July we have seen logs covering official routes and that’s just dangerous, if someone has an accident because of one of those obstructions then who is liable?

"It shouldn’t be the NRW, it should be whoever is moving branches and logs.”

NRW regional land manager, Sally Tansey commented: “The allegation against Ron Davies is a matter for the police, but we do not condone the placing of obstacles across trails on our land.

“Our focus is to manage the 210km of built trail network in these woodlands and we encourage mountain bikers to use these. We will also continue to report any malicious activity or criminal damage to the police.”

Mr Davies, however, believes that some cyclists are irresponsible in the way they use the trail.

“What has happened is there has been a huge increase in cyclists from across South Wales this year and they are not using it in a way recognised as responsible.

“As soon as NRW bulldozed some routes and put up signs, cyclists wrote some expletives over them, ignored them and used the routes again.

“They build some ramps up to 15 feet high and come down at horrifying and terrifying speeds,” he added.

“If they want to build these ramps they need approval from the NRW and the local authority.”

As Secretary of State for Wales he piloted the legislation that would lead to the establishment of the Welsh National Assembly.

He resigned the post in October 1998 following what he described as a “moment of madness” when he was mugged at knifepoint on Clapham Common by a man he had met there with whom he agreed to go for a meal.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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Dr_Lex | 7 years ago

I hear that some of the trails are being renamed in his honour - "imaginary badger" being one.

Cupov | 7 years ago

He needs to take stock of his life if this is how he spends his time, shades of Alan Partridge and his traffic cone antics.

crazy-legs | 7 years ago
1 like

Maybe he was out badger spotting. And then decided to have a play with his wood...


Mungecrundle | 7 years ago

I expect some rascal has simply run the video in reverse to make it look like he is moving rocks from the side of the path onto it.

Would be interesting to see the video...

davel | 7 years ago

'going for a meal', Ron? I don't think that's what 'hiding the sausage' means, on Clapham Common in the middle of the night.

Nor does 'I wasn't blocking the path' mean what you think it does, in Caerphilly, or anywhere.

WillRod | 7 years ago

"He resigned the post in October 1998 following what he described as a “moment of madness” when he was mugged at knifepoint on Clapham Common by a man he had met there with whom he agreed to go for a meal."


Claiming to be mugged, but you actually agreed to meet them in order to go for a meal? Surely this guy should be in a phsychiatric ward by now.


Argos74 | 7 years ago
sanderville | 7 years ago

Give the guy the benefit of the doubt.  He was probably just importuning men to commit acts of gross indecency with him in a public place.   Lay off.

Ush | 7 years ago
1 like

Maybe he was meeting a man for a meal on the path?  I shudder to think what else those cameras might have captured.

Yorkshire wallet | 7 years ago

His 'clearing the path' is about as truthful as his 'meeting a man for a meal'. 

tritecommentbot | 7 years ago
1 like

Lucky he's not on cabinet any longer. He'd be purged with the rest of them. enlightened

Yorkshire wallet | 7 years ago

You wouldn't catch Jeremy Corbyn doing that. Bloody Blairites. 

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