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Battle continues over the 100 mile cycle ride in the district

Lavant Parish Council has confirmed it has cancelled its ‘Cycling Sunday’ event due to be held for the Velo South cycle ride organised by CSM Active on September 23.


As well as a best-dressed bicycle competition supported by Lavant Primary School and The Royal Oak, ‘Dr Bike’ was offering free bike repair and maintenance advice while West Sussex County Council’s bikeability team was overseeing fun cycling activities.


However, the parish council has now confirmed it is cancelling the event for a number of reasons.


Imogen Whitaker, Lavant parish clerk, said: “At the outset, we felt that the consultation carried out by the county council was extremely poor and presented the parish with some difficult problems to resolve.


“We considered that the likelihood of the event being cancelled was small so decided to make the best of a bad job for our residents. We printed and distributed an information leaflet to the parish to let them know about the event and invited residents only to meet at the green for a picnic to try and mitigate the fact that they would be unable to leave the village for the entire day.


“Lavant Parish Council specifically asked Velo South not to include this in their list – it was only for residents. It was not an indication of support for the Velo South event. The council was therefore somewhat surprised to learn from an outside source that the Lavant event was listed as “support”.


“There is now a legal challenge pending which cites four reasons for cancelling the event – the first of which was lack of consultation and Lavant Parish Council supports this challenge.


“The other three grounds for the legal challenge are of a technical nature which we support.”


The Post has been told the county council have instructed London-based law firm, Sharpe Pritchard, to fight the action residents have mounted against Vélo South. As reported in last week’s Chichester Post, a group of residents formally started a legal challenge against the council regarding road closure proposals for Vélo South.


The news comes just after all the council leaders from across West Sussex (with the exception of Crawley Borough Council) met earlier this week to discuss the budget situation faced by the county council due to lack of central government funding.


The county council has already saved £145m over the last eight years but now faces a funding gap of £146m over the next four years.


“If Louise Goldsmith really wants to save money, she should withdraw the council’s support for this hugely divisive, hugely disruptive, hugely expensive race, immediately,” said Chris Matthews, one of the residents in the Stop Velo South campaign.


Chichester District Council leader, Cllr Tony Dignum, has faced criticism about the event on his Facebook page, with one resident asking why the district council has been supporting the cycle ride.


He said: “Early on, the district council was approached by CSM and we supported the event in principle then which is why you see the Chichester council logo on marketing literature.


“We thought then there would be a benefit to tourism from visitors. As so often the devil is in the detail and we now see the tourism benefit possibly offset by loss of opportunity for local residents and businesses by the sheer length of time for which road closures have been agreed, as I have said before, an amazing nine and a half hours closure on roads near me even though we are about two miles from the finish.”

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