Cycling campaigners and event organisers have hit back at claims that hosting a race in the Tour Series this summer will cause chaos in Colchester town centre.
The town is one of ten English towns and cities playing host to the road race series billed as bringing “gladiatorial and exciting team racing to the streets near you.”
But it seems some Colchester residents don’t want it brought to a street near them on Thursday, June 18, when the town will host the penultimate event in the series, to be aired on ITV4 the evening after.
Local resident Adrian Jones, 65, of De Vere Road, told the Colchester Gazette: “I have been trying to work out what on earth the council is doing, taking a whole working day and closing the town centre.
“It seems the implications of the cycling event have not been thought through and the people of Colchester have been forgotten.”
And Sue Lissimore, ward councillor for Prettygate, told the newspaper: “What I don’t think the people of Colchester know is that the whole of the town centre is going to be closed off and gridlocked for the whole day.
“I am worried people are going to have trouble getting to work in the morning and leaving at night.
“The council seems to be viewing it as an experiment to find out what would happen if the town centre were closed to motorists.”
But tour organizers say they have worked closely with their local partner, Colchester Borough Council, and media partners to ensure disruption is kept to a minimum and local residents and businesses are warned well in advance of road closures.
Tour Series spokesman Craig Brophy told road.cc: “It’s not like we’re springing this on the local community. We’re working with them to ensure there is as little disruption as possible. At the same time, we’re bringing an event to Colchester which will be shown on ITV so it’s also an opportunity for people around the country and beyond to see what Colchester has to offer.”
Fay Mathers, community project officer for Colchester Borough Council, told the Gazette: “People will be able to get into town.
“It is just the High Street and the centre of town which will be used for the cycle track.
“The bus stops are going to be re-routed around the town. People will be able to get off and on the bus, but at slightly different places.
“It won’t inconvenience anyone at all. It is very good for the town, it’s raising the profile of Colchester and it gives people a feelgood factor about where they live.”
And Will Bramhill, of the Colchester Cycling Campaign, told road.cc: “We reckon it will attract 10,000 people in to the town centre, improving Colchester’s status. The car parks are all outside the circuit so it needn’t upset things that much. We’re sending out a message to shoppers all around that Colchester is still open for business.”
The Tour Series kicked off yesterday in Milton Keynes with Yorkshire rider Graham Briggs returning from a rib injury to take the first round. There will be an hour of coverage on ITV4 tonight from 7pm.
To find out more about the series, visit the website: www.tourseries.co.uk