‘We will protest if Velo is allowed, protocol or not’

Velo South
Velo South

Campaigners opposed to cycle event Velo South have reiterated threats to protest should the event be allowed in future years.

The 100-mile closed road route through many rural villages in the Midhurst and Petworth area was controversial last year, when the event was called off due to bad weather.

West Sussex County Council has now published a new protocol for planning similar major events involving road closures with a longer timeline for notifying authorities and an emphasis on consulting communities.

Chris Matthews, from Stop Velo South, said the issue was with how the policy was implemented and reiterated concerns that road closures in rural villages would block-in residents.

He said: “In theory it’s good, but the devil is in the detail and the devil is in how it’s implemented and that is our concern.

“Anyone imagining that putting 15,000 people in narrow country roads and locking us in our homes is a good idea is wrong.

“If there’s a protocol and they allow Velo South, there will be protest and we will pay councillors back at the ballot box.”

Velo South organiser CSM Active was given the go-ahead for the 2018 event by county council officers and not councillors.

When the issue of closed roads came to full council, later in the year, some members attempted to limit the road closure order – but the motion failed amid concerns for the safety of the several thousand riders scheduled to take part.

The new protocol acknowledges the need to ‘balance’ the potential economic and social benefits of a large event with the potential impact on communities.

CSM has said it hopes to reschedule Velo South in 2020 as an internationally attractive occasion that would raise funds for charity.