Vachery Triathlon organiser claims Surrey County Council reneged on deal to hold event following anti-cycling protests

Brave Events says council demanded 'unachieveable' processes in the wake of petitions to stop Surrey closed-road events

by Sarah Barth   February 15, 2014  

Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 - riders passing a mill

The CEO of the company that runs the Vachery Triathlon in Surrey has hit out at the council processes that have forced it to call off this year’s event.

Mark Davis of Brave Events has said that he planned the 2014 event on the basis that it would be approved in the same way as last year’s successful one - but then was told there was a list of new, ‘unachievable’ procedures to go through.

Mr Davis told Get Surrey: “The council maintains that it would only be able to run Vachery in 2014 by following a new and far more onerous process that requires, amongst other things, the unanimous support of a long list of stakeholders including all affected parish councils.”

This, he said, was in response to anti-cycling protests in the county, particularly in the wake of the Prudential RideLondon closed road event in the summer.

He said: “As the council has now confirmed, it does not accept our position, perhaps in recognition of the anti open-road cycling furore from local politicians and protesters experienced last year, and instead insists there was no standing agreement for Vachery in 2014.”

A Surrey County Council spokesman responded, saying: “We are not the organisers of the Vachery Triathlon and have not been involved in any decisions about its running.

“There has been no dispute with event organisers Brave Events.

“We told them that if they want to apply to close the roads for the triathlon, they must follow our new process, involving consultation with residents, businesses and councillors and a formal application; and so far we have not received anything from them.”

Mr Davis added: “The council’s statement is contradictory in that it states there was no dispute with Brave Events and then confirms the position it has adopted in relation to Vachery in 2014.

“It is precisely the position that we must follow a new process to obtain approval for any road closures, which has been the subject of the dispute.”

Many of those who have already signed up have lost part of their entry fee, and 3,500 competitors will be disappointed at the news that the triathlon is not to run on July 20 as planned.

As Brave Events has gone into administration as a result of the cancellation, some money will be recoverable from the insolvency practitioners.

Mr Davis said: “It is incredibly frustrating and deeply saddening to disappoint the triathletes, spectators and volunteers who shared our vision and contributed to the short but stunning sporting success of the Vachery Triathlon Festival.”

Earlier this month we reported how Brave Events ceased trading, blaming "highly vocal" opposition to cycling events in the area.

As a result of the company's decision, neither the Vachery Triathlon nor XTERRA England - an off-road triathlon event, with disciplines including mountain biking and trail running - will take place this year.

As we reported last year, a petition was launched by local businessman Ian Huggins called on the council to "Stop using Surrey as a Cycle Track."

That petition was subsequently overtaken in support by one launched by cyclist (and road.cc user) Keith McRae, which called on the council to support cycling events, but urged it to communicate better with local residents in order to ensure they could continue to go ahead in future.

In December, the council, whose draft cycling strategy is currently going through a consultation process, urged the government to introduce a law regulating sportives, apparently in reaction to pressure from some Surrey residents.

The council also found itself embroiled in a row in November when it was accused of having signed a "secret" agreement to host the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 closed-road sportive for five years - even though, when the event was announced in 2012, it was clear that five annual editions would initially be held.

The route XTERRA England, part of the leading international off-road triathlon series and a qualification event for the world championships in Hawaii, included a 30km mountain bike ride and 10km trail run, both in the Surrey Hills.

The 2014 edition was due to have been held on the weekend of 23 and 24 August - a fortnight after Prudential RideLondon.

34 user comments

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I think Surrey council are getting a hard time of this, there is more to this than meets the eye.

Brave Events and Mr Davis have put a massive spin on this.

There was NO reason that XTERRA couldn't go ahead. They decided to fold the company anyway and are now blaming the council for changing the rules following consultation with their residents.

Ride London have had to work round new rules aswell. A few other events I know about have also had to change things.

SO there is something fishy going on. Especially when it comes to people not getting a FULL refund.

Brave Events would have HAD to have insurance against things like the event not going ahead under a number of circumstances....

Personally, if I had paid up for either of these events, I would be going mad.

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posted by Gkam84 [8645 posts]
15th February 2014 - 18:34

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Perhaps the only rational response is for everyone in Surrey who owns a bike to cycle laps of the route repeatedly on the 20th July. Riding 4 abreast. Without helmets. Wearing mankinis...

posted by Whitters1986 [4 posts]
15th February 2014 - 18:46

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Whitters1986 wrote:
Perhaps the only rational response is for everyone in Surrey who owns a bike to cycle laps of the route repeatedly on the 20th July. Riding 4 abreast. Without helmets. Wearing mankinis...

Sounds alright, free entry instead of the usual £25-30 as well!

http://matmitchellcycling.wordpress.com
The usual new 4th Cat blog with some stuff about Pros too.

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posted by mtm_01 [90 posts]
15th February 2014 - 21:45

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Mr Davis was chucking his toys out of his pram last year too.

A quick search through the Get Surrey website will show you this, there is no reason why he cannot hold the off road event and also one wonders why he cannot offer would be participants a full refund.

I would also think at this precise moment the county council have far more important things to worry about.

http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/local-news/pictures-flooding-crisis-cont...

Or was he hoping that the current problems would stop them applying their new rules?

posted by freespirit1 [138 posts]
15th February 2014 - 22:37

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Just put in Vachery Triathlon and you can see his attitude to things...

http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/search/simple.do?destinationSectionId=9778&pu...

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posted by Gkam84 [8645 posts]
16th February 2014 - 1:15

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Just attempt to ride (walk too) on "main" routes / public highways and you can see Surrey's attitude towards anything other than a motor vehicle.

posted by northstar [1083 posts]
16th February 2014 - 1:42

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Such battles have happened in many places, with short-term (often single-day) effects taking precedence over the long-term value events have for communities — which can be as simple as just improving the image of a place, making a community seem more friendly. I feel that cycling events should not have to go through processes any different for any other event. If "the unanimous support of a long list of stakeholders including all affected parish councils" were applied in all cases, I wonder if even events designed for whole communities, such as a Christmas parade or jubilee celebration, could ever happen.

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posted by DavidC [29 posts]
16th February 2014 - 6:30

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Is there any way we can "make it difficult" or ban motorists from Surrey Driving into central London and intimidating us local urban cyclists? Wink

posted by Cycleoptic [19 posts]
16th February 2014 - 8:26

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DavidC wrote:
Such battles have happened in many places, with short-term (often single-day) effects taking precedence over the long-term value events have for communities — which can be as simple as just improving the image of a place, making a community seem more friendly. I feel that cycling events should not have to go through processes any different for any other event. If "the unanimous support of a long list of stakeholders including all affected parish councils" were applied in all cases, I wonder if even events designed for whole communities, such as a Christmas parade or jubilee celebration, could ever happen.

+1 Just moving the goalposts to suit their agenda, nimby or political.

Does "everyone" realise they are now only "considering" having a "pedestrian" / walking "stakeholder on the tfl "list" (possibly cycling too)

And people wonder why the public highways of london can be / are such a mess...

posted by northstar [1083 posts]
16th February 2014 - 9:17

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At one point the route for the Vachery includes part of the Ride London route. Under the "Special Event Order" that the County Council have obtained, there cannot be another Order relating to the same stretch of road in the same calendar year, unless the Secretary of State grants permission.

What I would suggest is that the Mr Davis has been asked to change the route of the Vachery or appeals to the Secretary of State and he has decided he does not want to.

http://mycouncil.surreycc.gov.uk/documents/s10546/item%2006B%20-%20PRLS%...

Items 36 and 37 are the relevant ones, to save you all wading through the whole document.

posted by freespirit1 [138 posts]
16th February 2014 - 9:17

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*yawns*

Sorry your diversion tactics will never work, i await your angry reply telling me opposite?

Surrey in general is the reason for this mess, no other : ).

posted by northstar [1083 posts]
16th February 2014 - 9:19

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If you cannot be bothered to read the items I have pointed out that are official minutes from the County Council, I am afraid that is your problem and you can yawn all you like!

posted by freespirit1 [138 posts]
16th February 2014 - 9:31

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freespirit1 wrote:
If you cannot be bothered to read the items I have pointed out that are official minutes from the County Council, I am afraid that is your problem and you can yawn all you like!

Hah, i rest my case, if you can not be bothered to open your eyes to what is really going on then likewise ; )

I will yawn some more thanks *yawns* : )

Again, i await more of the same from you, it's funny you think this has any effect whatsoever given you've been shown up many times before...

posted by northstar [1083 posts]
16th February 2014 - 9:32

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Northstar, I've been in contact a few times with Surrey CC through my petition for Ride London and also in contact with Ride London ALOT....

From an organisers side of things, Surrey CC have done what any council would do, which I think is reasonable. Other events are still continuing, slight modifications to routes, changing dates...etc

It just seems that Mr Davis and Brave Events are stubborn so n so's. He's pulled the business, I would even go as far to say, I bet it didn't go bankrupt and that he has made money from all this.

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posted by Gkam84 [8645 posts]
16th February 2014 - 10:01

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Now it's been shown that residents of certain areas of Surrey can cope without driving around in their motorcars for 4 or 5 days perhaps just a few hours of 'inconvenience' on a Saturday or Sunday will be put into perspective.

Surrey CC, or rather the councillors, have folded to the pressure of car drivers yet again in fear that they will lose their comfortable positions come the next council election.

Did Nightrider 2013 for Parkinson's UK, doing it again this year just for the fun of it and to raise more money.

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posted by jova54 [583 posts]
16th February 2014 - 11:27

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Tbh we are talking about slightly different topics but I see no reason why 2 events cannot be held (partly?) on the same route, just think about it...

TWO times a year, that's TWO days out of 365.

As for Surrey in general, come and spend sometime riding on their public highways and your opinion will become more balanced / change in time.

posted by northstar [1083 posts]
16th February 2014 - 12:08

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This is a bit dislointed but

1) As a Yorkshireman who has his daily commute messed up by tourists using the local ferries & has will also suffer from the number of non Yorkshiremen coming to Yorkshire for the start of Le Tour, I though I would look up Ian Huggins to try and get some tips on keeping the hoi polloi out of Yorkshire and guess what I found about this fine upstanding concerned resident of Surrey

http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/local-news/clay-pigeon-shoot-refusal-spa...

He's not concerned about the area where he lives, he's concerned about himself and Surrey CC should be well aware of this, if not they need reminding.

2) This particular situation seems to be a case of all sides behaving like arse's in the case here imho with everyone spitting their dummies out and trying to blame someone else..

3) If the people of Surrey don't want me there on on my bike in their county, I'm sure they don't want my & every other cycling householders £10.50 levy on household insurance to keep their household insurance at the same level as it was prior to the floods.

posted by Gus T [26 posts]
16th February 2014 - 13:21

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A syzygy of idiots is what it is.

Can see no reason why the offroad event can't go ahead. And no attempt made to seek consultation with "stakeholders", so at least if someone does kick up a fuss or throw a spanner-shaped veto in the works, we can all point and say "that's the fathead couch potato spoilsport what done it". But nonono... towel thrown in before the bell for the first round has even been rung. Bit of Rule 5 needed here.

The small proportion of Surrey residents who object to the presence of bicycles, lycra and the interruption of the local sport of hunting down and killing small animals with Chelsea tractors is well known. This shouldn't be a problem. The badgers and hedgehogs are on our side, even if the fat middle-aged men aren't.

Meh, once the weather gets better, am riding up to Dovestone Reservoir with swimming trunks, running shoes and some sandwiches. That'll learn 'em.

posted by Argos74 [256 posts]
16th February 2014 - 14:02

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Gus T wrote:
This is a bit dislointed but

1) As a Yorkshireman who has his daily commute messed up by tourists using the local ferries & has will also suffer from the number of non Yorkshiremen coming to Yorkshire for the start of Le Tour, I though I would look up Ian Huggins to try and get some tips on keeping the hoi polloi out of Yorkshire and guess what I found about this fine upstanding concerned resident of Surrey

http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/local-news/clay-pigeon-shoot-refusal-spa...

He's not concerned about the area where he lives, he's concerned about himself and Surrey CC should be well aware of this, if not they need reminding.

2) This particular situation seems to be a case of all sides behaving like arse's in the case here imho with everyone spitting their dummies out and trying to blame someone else..

3) If the people of Surrey don't want me there on on my bike in their county, I'm sure they don't want my & every other cycling householders £10.50 levy on household insurance to keep their household insurance at the same level as it was prior to the floods.

Ian Huggins....a waste of my breath and typing skills.

I set up a petition against his, which Surrey CC accepted and his was pretty much rejected and was described in one email to me from a Surrey CC Councillor as a "disgrace to everyone who lives in the Surrey council jurisdiction"

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posted by Gkam84 [8645 posts]
16th February 2014 - 14:40

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But even so, Surrey CC has imposed restrictions so either the Councillor lied to you or a policy was introduced by Council Officials and rubber stamped by the Council. Either way there have been changes to policy despite your petition and the assurances given to you which is both shameful and underhand.

posted by Gus T [26 posts]
16th February 2014 - 15:01

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There were no assurances given to me.

It is on the internet somewhere, the video of their debate. They have acted on both the concerns of their residents and those of the British cycling community.

They have come up with a reasonable set of guidelines to follow.

If Mr Davis and Brave Events do not want to follow these, that is his problem, reading his interviews with sections of the media, he doesn't seem to be a flexible guy and wants things done his way or not at all.

I think this has been shown, not only has Vachery Triathlon been pulled, but also XTERRA, which from all the information I can find on the internet, is OFF road and on a private estate.

Toys out of the pram..."I can't have my event, so I won't put on the other one that I have franchised. I will also take peoples money and not keep them informed"....

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posted by Gkam84 [8645 posts]
16th February 2014 - 15:24

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Quote:
They have come up with a reasonable set of guidelines to follow.

Really?

The only person here who has been reasonable and look how far it's got you.

posted by northstar [1083 posts]
16th February 2014 - 16:37

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So reading for you

http://www.surreycc.gov.uk/roads-and-transport/roads-and-transport-polic... of page

ESPECIALLY this one. page 7 onwards Wink I think it is fairly reasonable to expect the organisers of events to follow this

http://www.surreycc.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0012/698268/Annex-4-Co...

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posted by Gkam84 [8645 posts]
16th February 2014 - 16:56

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As I said above, i'm good thanks.

posted by northstar [1083 posts]
16th February 2014 - 16:56

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.

posted by northstar [1083 posts]
16th February 2014 - 16:57

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Oh well, some people are just ignorant to things and will blame the "powers" that be, because they do not believe that it could be anyone elses fault.

If you were to read that PDF, you would see the reasonable steps that are laid out for an event to be held.

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posted by Gkam84 [8645 posts]
16th February 2014 - 17:05

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Yes "some people" are, not me, i'm well aware of how things work, read enough of these documents, seen how it all works many times...

Your dribbling comment about "anyone 'fault" makes little sense either as it's clear who the "buck" stops with.

There's various things i've raised which you haven't addressed but it's your call, it doesn't affect me.

posted by northstar [1083 posts]
16th February 2014 - 17:24

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The "buck" for this stops with Mr Davis and Brave Events.

They still had plenty of time to rectify things and run an event, they chose to piss and moan about it, instead of just getting things done

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posted by Gkam84 [8645 posts]
16th February 2014 - 17:40

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Not on this issue it doesn't.

posted by northstar [1083 posts]
16th February 2014 - 20:15

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Time for Critical Mass outside Surrey county Council in response to their anti-cycling polices...

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posted by Dark_Wolf [22 posts]
16th February 2014 - 21:17

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