Controversial Velo South could return in 2020

Velo Birmingham 2017
Velo Birmingham 2017

Cycle event Velo South could return in 2020, West Sussex County Council has confirmed.

The 100-mile cycle event across the county was dramatically cancelled at the last minute for 2018 due to anticipated ‘dangerous’ weather conditions – but not before a storm of controversy had formed over its road closure schedule.

READ MORE: How Velo South became so controversial

Today, organisers CSM Active updated their website to say that the event would return in 2020.

Former executive chairman of CSM Active Jon Ridgeon, had previously said he would not scale down the event and would keep it at 15,000 cyclists or more.

West Sussex County Council, which recieved a backlash from its own councillors over a lack of consultation on the 2018 event, has since confirmed that Velo South will not return in 2019 in order ‘to better understand concerns’.

A county council spokesman said: “We supported Velo South 2018 and it was regrettable that the event had to be cancelled due to poor weather conditions.

“Of course we will in the future consider events of this scale in West Sussex because of the boost they can bring to tourism and the local economy in the county.

“We know that large scale sporting events can also inspire people to become active, and deliver associated health and wellbeing benefits.

“However, we also recognise that some residents had concerns about the event so rather than having an event this year, the county council intends to take the time to better understand those concerns and plan ahead for a possible event in 2020.

“It’s important to emphasise that we are open minded to events of this scale in West Sussex.

“We are ambitious for our residents and our local economy and that in the future when planning successful major events we will do this together with our communities.”

The announcement has been met with anger and cynicism by anti-Velo campaigners, who have accused the county council of ‘breaking promises’ to review how the 2018 event was organised.

READ MORE: Campaigners ‘appalled’ at announcement over Velo South 2020

The county council has stressed that no agreements are in place for an event in 2020.

A county council spokesman said: “The council will welcome applications from any potential organisers who are interested in holding an event next year, including CSM Active.

“Lessons learned during the preparations for Velo South are being reflected in a new Major Events Protocol for the county, which is currently being developed by officers.

“The protocol will be shared once approved and will provide event organisers with guidelines as to what information needs to be provided to key council service areas before Temporary Traffic Regulation Orders are approved.”