WEST SUSSEX County Council has rejected a suggestion to keep roads open during the Velo South cycling event, or to close them only for elite cyclists on Sunday, September 23.
Vélo South, run by CSM Active Ltd, will take 15,000 riders of all ability levels on a 100-mile journey through the county’s stunning countryside, starting and finishing at the iconic Goodwood motor circuit.
A proposal submitted by Cllr Dr Kate O’Kelly said: “This council recognises that the forthcoming Velo South on-road cycle event will raise the profile of West Sussex.
“This council equally acknowledges the impact the proposed road closures will have on those residents and businesses who are along and within the loop of the route and therefore calls on the leader and the cabinet for highways and infrastructure to take steps to minimise that impact by working with the event organisers to either abandon the road closures or introduce ‘short rolling road closures for the elite cyclists only’, noting that ‘rolling’ closures have been the norm for previous major cycle events in the county.”
Council leader Louise Goldsmith said at Friday’s meeting: “I am deeply disappointed to see this notice and motion written in the way it is.
“What we are doing is undoubtedly a brave thing. We are supporting CSM and it is very different for West Sussex and I think that is a mark of how we are growing and maturing.
“We are understanding our responsibilities on public health, encouraging people to enjoy the great outdoors, respecting that people enjoy the spectator sports such as cycling and actually showcasing what is probably one of the most beautiful counties in the country.”
Cllr David Barling said: “The first motion on cycling was a very, very, positive message to send out that cyclists are welcome in West Sussex. We have this very destructive motion which sends out the complete opposite message. However you cut the cake, however you wrap it up and say ‘I’m not against cycling.’
“This is so destructive that if you pass this motion, you end the event today. It’s as simple as that.
“If I was taking part in this event on my new bicycle it might well be that I’m lagging some way behind the elite cyclists, but I would expect to have a similar level of safety and protection through a closed-road system.”
Cllr Dr O’Kelly said: “We need to think again. This does not need to be a closed road event. It’s too much of an imposition on our residents. They’re saying this loudly and clearly and we should be listening.”
Thirty seven councillors voted against the suggestion, with eight in favour and ten abstentions.