Opinion: We’ve worked hard to cater for every club, says Lee Valley park authority in row over Olympic Velopark access
Management of Olympic cycling venues responds to criticism
Some local clubs and community groups have expressed unhappiness at the way Lee Valley Velopark is being managed, claiming that the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority has been difficult to work with and has favoured companies running corporate events over local clubs.
In this response to those concerns, Paul Bloomfield-Bray of Lee Valley Regional Park Authority explains how the body is working with the community.
"The idea that our corporate clients have been given priority over community groups and clubs is completely unfounded. Our programming includes 40 per cent of clubs and schools sessions, 55 per cent for the public (training, taster sessions and pay and ride) and only five per cent is allocated to corporate events.
We have worked closely with local clubs and the cycling community as a whole to ensure a well-balanced programme, which is unbiased and fair for all.
Yes, we have corporate clients and events, but the money earned from these clients is put back into the venue, to help to bring the prices down for our customers and also fund our community projects, like our annual Schools Festival, with its inaugural event later in the year.
At that time [Michael Humphreys and Bruce Mackie spoke about their concerns], booking was not open to clubs, groups or indeed individuals. This is the reason clubs found it hard to book.
The companies you mentioned are our preferred suppliers. They have five per cent of all the hours per month. As mentioned in the article in the Daily Star Sunday, 95% is community, public and club sessions.
Corporate events and clients using the velodrome will often have no effect on the rest of the venue. This means that if a corporate client uses the velodrome track for two or three hours, this doesn’t stop public use, club sessions or tasters on the one mile road circuit, the 390m remodelled Olympic BMX track, or the five miles of mountain bike trails.
A full schedule and programme has been created with an average of 75 school sessions and 135 club sessions every month. The clubs mentioned in the article, including Lee Valley Youth CC have been booked in to their club night sessions which will run weekly on a Wednesday night. Our coaching team have worked hard to cater for every club who has shown an interest.
Over a year ago, LVRPA began working with local clubs, official bodies from the British Cycling Eastern, South and South Eastern regions to discuss the proposed development of Lee Valley VeloPark. The Authority has worked closely with these partners and looked at other venues’ programmes to create a balanced and exciting cycling programme, which will appeal to all: from beginner cyclists and youngsters, to advanced and elite riders. Through consultation with the Six Growth Boroughs cycling group we have designed a cycling programme, which meets the needs of the region’s regular and prospective cyclists.
Further, the Authority’s cycling officer, with support from an additional outreach colleague, held detailed consultation meetings with regional cycling groups and cycling organisations, to establish the demand for club sessions and other group sessions at Lee Valley VeloPark and to establish programmes that appeal to them.
The Authority has engaged with local authorities, sport’s National Governing Bodies, sports and community groups to establish what they require from Lee Valley VeloPark and as far as possible guarantee accessibility, ensuring that all ages and abilities benefit from it.
In terms of consultation with other groups with the running of the venue, the Authority chairs the Six Growth Boroughs Group on cycling (these are the former Olympic host London boroughs of Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Greenwich, Newham and Barking & Dagenham) to ensure that communities can access and benefit from both Lee Valley VeloPark, and the wider regeneration of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Also LVRPA will be providing sessions for a variety of East End based clubs, as well as those who specialise in specific disciplines. Some may be regular (every week) and some more disparate (once every two months/year) depending on the requirements of the club. This access will be balanced with access for other clubs across the city, the south east and further afield
Before the construction and development of Lee Valley VeloPark, all clubs were made aware that there would be no single resident club. This is to be fair to all clubs who wish to use this iconic venue, and to manage the level of demand we expect.
Having one club dominate the programme would detrimental to the facility and to the development of the sport. We believe that we have achieved a good, balanced programme, which accommodates a wide range of clubs and organisations.
The decision to not have a host club was made in order to be fair to a large number of clubs, but also create a healthy and equal competition, and facilitate improvement both in skills and coaching."