Motorsport and bike racing firms say they are worried they could be forced off their home after council officials questioned its future and tried to get tenants to sign new contracts.
Fourteen businesses based at Birmingham’s famous Wheels Park, in Bordesley Green, say that relations with Birmingham city council, which owns the land, have soured.
A range of activities including banger racing, go karting, BMX biking, speed skating and driving schools have been running on the 47-acre park for more than 28 years.
Although the Wheels Trust, which runs the site, posted a £10,000 profit last year, the council has claimed that the financial future of the site may not be viable.
Council officials said that because of a serious drop in grants and charitable income, it has serious doubts over whether Wheels Park will survive in the long term.
But firms have accused the council of acting in a ‘devious and deceitful way’, and claim there is a plot to wind up the Wheels Trust, the charity which operates the park, and which has a 98-year lease.
The Wheels Trust is led by a sole director, Conservative councillor Bob Beauchamp and published accounts for the trust shows that in two years he has turned a loss into a £10,000 profit. Coun Beauchamp said he has been asked to resign by the Labour-run council, but has refused until he is given assurances over the long-term future for the businesses and that they will be found new affordable sites if the council wants to develop the land.
The group of angry traders on the site includes site manager Mick Roberts, of the Trust, John Fry of In-line Speed Skating, Paul Gerrard of Incarace – the stock car and banger racing circuit, John Keattch of Grand Prix Karting, Philip Bond of Motor Racing Live and wood carver Graham Jones.
Mr Roberts said there have also been veiled threats of liquidation from a council official in a letter to the businesses.
He said: “This is totally unacceptable behaviour by Birmingham City Council, and the traders involved are taking appropriate advice on their next legal moves.”
The businesses say they are an asset to the city, creating jobs, providing facilities for young people and regularly attracting paying visitors from outside the city.
As well as the site of a former brickworks, the land has been a dumping ground for local industry and, according to a 2008 survey, is heavily contaminated.
Rubble cleared from when Coventry was badly bombed during the blitz was also dumped on the site in the war.
John Fry, who has run the in-line speed skating track for more than 30 years said he could remember when the landfill site was an embarrassment to the city, boarded up to hide it from passengers on the railway into the city centre.
“When we came here the council couldn’t wait to get rid of this land. Everyone used to dump their rubbish here, it was an eyesore. That is why the council gave us 120 year leases.
“We provide a service for local young people, we are doing some good. We also get visitors from all over the country.”
Two years ago Birmingham city council drew up a Bordesley Park Action Plan which included the Wheels site and described the site as ‘challenging’ which would require considerable work to make it fit for development.
The plan suggested that much of the site remain set aside for leisure use – both commercial and community based.
A Birmingham City Council spokesman said: “The council has been working with the Trust and the users of the site for some time to create a viable future.
“The challenge is a difficult one as most of the charitable income and grants have ceased over recent years. Therefore the aim is to grant licences or leases to the main tenants for longer periods than currently exist to allow the main sporting and other uses to continue on a more secure basis.
“This dialogue is continuing and we are seeking a satisfactory conclusion for all.”
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