LOCOG looks set to charge to watch Olympic races from Box Hill as minister praises environmental benefits

Go Surrey newsletter says local residents will "have the chance to purchase tickets"

by Simon_MacMichael   March 27, 2012  

Box Hill Olympic Test Event © National Trust : David Levenson

Controversial plans by Olympic Games organisers LOCOG to charge spectators to watch this summer’s road races from the vantage point of Box Hill have apparently been confirmed by a newsletter sent out earlier this month by Surrey County Council to local residents and businesses. Meanwhile, Environment Minister Richard Benyon has hailed the benefits that the event will bring to local fauna and flora.

Scrubland has already been cleared at the National Trust-owned beauty spot in anticipation of the arrival of up to 15,000 fans to watch the likes of Mark Cavendish and Lizzie Armitstead go for gold this July, with Zig-Zag Road, tackled nine times in the men’s event and twice in the women’s one, expected to have a big influence on each race.

Initially, the National Trust had sought to impose even greater restrictions on the number of fans permitted into the enclosures at the Site of Special Scientific Interest – just 3,400 were permitted to watch last August’s test event there.

While spectators were allowed into the enclosure free for that event, followig its announcement earlier this year that it was to increase the capacity for the Olympics, LOCOG said that it was considering charging fans at the Games, a proposal that was criticised by British Cycling, among others.

Although no official details have yet been announced, the fact that will indeed be the case for the men’s race on 28 July and the women’s event 24 hours later appears to have been confirmed in a newsletter sent to local residents and businesses by Surrey County Council’s Go Surrey team earlier this month.

Outlining details of road closures, parking restrictions and other arrangements associated with the events, the newsletter continued: “Spectators will have the chance to purchase tickets to watch the event on the Zig Zag Road incline and Donkey Green on Box Hill."
It added: "The rest of the Box Hill loop is free for spectators to view,"

Notwithstanding the controversy over charging for tickets, it is expected that the work will have long-term benefits for the biodiversity of the area, which is home to rare species of orchid and butterflies.

Mr Benyon, who visited Box Hill yesterday to open an information centre about the road races, was quoted by Eagle Radio as saying: "The Olympics is going to leave a fantastic legacy at Box Hill. I've seen today that the habitats along the cycling route will not only be protected but the biodiversity of the area enhanced, benefiting wildlife and the local communities for years to come.”

Earlier this year, Andy Wright, National Trust Countryside Manager for Box Hill, had outlined the benefits that the work associated with the Olympics would bring to the natural habitat at the location, saying: "It's great news that so many people will be able to enjoy the races in this wonderful natural setting, but it's also great news for the rare wildlife here.

"Since traditional farming ceased in the 1930s, woodland has been encroaching onto the grassland at Box Hill and we've been battling to keep it back,” he continued.

"The surveys conducted by LOCOG are the most thorough ever carried out on this site and they have really helped us understand the best way to manage the habitat for the long term.

"The scrub alongside the road had very few species living in it, so in the areas where it has been removed are not so sensitive to people walking on them.

"Gradually over the years this land will turn back into chalk grassland which is a much richer habitat - supporting around 60 to 100 species of plants, animals and insects per square metre," he added.
 

26 user comments

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Pah should have known better than to think it would ever be free.

posted by Stefan [58 posts]
27th March 2012 - 13:23

7 Likes

It was rather amusing hearing Seb getting booed at the UCI championships earlier this year.

Maybe I'm just annoyed I didn't get any Olympics tickets. That's OK, I'll pop over to Box Hill. Oh, hang on.

posted by Coleman [329 posts]
27th March 2012 - 14:14

3 Likes

Did you really expect any diffderent? Thousands of poor Chinese were evicted form their homes without recourse to make way for the Bird's Nest Stadium. Many businesses were evicted from the Strafrod are ot make way for the London stadium. Thousands of slum dwellers in Rio will be evicted to make way for the Brazil 2016 stadium.

Meanwhile we allow a privileged minority of bureaucrats and commercial sponsors (not the athletes, who will stay put in their village) to monopolise our roads system with "Zil lanes". We charge for access to public land. We line the pockets of corrupt sports officials who have mostly never run further than a bus stop or swam in anthing bigger than a jacuzzi. The whole jamboree will cost us well over £12bn.

Never again.

posted by Paul M [325 posts]
27th March 2012 - 14:17

5 Likes

'We're all in it together'

antonio

antonio's picture

posted by antonio [1018 posts]
27th March 2012 - 14:49

6 Likes

How much do you think they will cost

slightly more aerodynamic than a brick

HarveyMorcombe's picture

posted by HarveyMorcombe [48 posts]
27th March 2012 - 17:17

3 Likes

And don't expect a reasonsble cost for a pitch on Box hill either

The Guardian claims that the security costs of the "London lockdown" to protect the world and corporate elite is about £59k per athlete. " Even if London's overall security budget remains similar to that of Athens, that works out at the startling figure of £59,000 of public money to secure each competitor or £3,500 per competitor per day"

No wonder the convention of road racing spectating for free is under the cosh to help pay for the cost of the olympics. The true nature of the event is aptly revealed in the Guardian article on security see :;http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2012/mar/12/london-olympics-security-lockdown-london

"During the Games themselves, so-called "Olympic Divides" are especially stark. In London, a citywide system of dedicated VIP "Games lanes" are being installed. Using normally public road space, these will allow 4,000 luxury, chauffeur-driven BMWs to shuttle 40,000 Olympic officials, national bureaucrats, politicians and corporate sponsors speedily between their five-star hotels, super-yachts and cordoned-off VIP lounges within the arenas. It has recently been shown that wealthy tourists will be able to enter the VIP lanes by purchasing £20,000 package trips.

Ordinary Londoners, meanwhile – who are paying heavily for the Games through council tax hikes – will experience much worse congestion. Even their ambulances will be proscribed from the lanes if they are not running blue lights."

posted by Sudor1 [1 posts]
27th March 2012 - 20:01

6 Likes

Isn't it better that we have to pay?

its called price discrimination.. and it means generally those who have a greater desire to go will get the tickets... instead of a load of people who don't think watching a pro bike race go past 9x is worth £30,£40,£50 or whatever.

posted by ALIHISGREAT [113 posts]
27th March 2012 - 20:51

5 Likes

ALIHISGREAT wrote:
Isn't it better that we have to pay?

Isn't the point here that we've already paid? Well, if you're a UK tax payer you have, and you could certainly argue that if the people who live in or around Box Hill wanted to go and see it for free they should be able to irrespective of whether they are cycling fans.

You would also have to wonder whether if LOCOG are going to charge whether they will be retaining a slice of tickets for the corporate sector - every one of them a cycling fan no doubt… or maybe just people able to benefit from price discrimination cos they've got very large amounts of money.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4160 posts]
28th March 2012 - 7:52

4 Likes

yet more pockets lined at the expense of the
masses .... pah. Time for a revolution ....

still on the 3rd switch-back of Bwlch !

posted by therevokid [768 posts]
28th March 2012 - 8:39

5 Likes

You may not be able to pop over to Box Hill but you can watch it in Kingston... there are no plans to charge there or on other parts of the route.

http://www.kingstonfirst.co.uk/visitkingston/latestnews/news/watcholympi...

posted by whitey [1 posts]
28th March 2012 - 10:51

3 Likes

I see it being unlikely that I'll get a ticket - they were like gold dust for the test event - but I'll certainly still be up at some ridiculous time in the morning, and I'll give getting onto the Hill a bloody good go. Worked for the test event. If that doesn't work, you can still see the riders go past 9x on other parts of the loop, albeit when they're going a lot quicker.

Box Hill is my local climb when Im not at uni, and even on the busiest summer days with hikers, roadies and MTBers (I do both), I've never seen any of it fenced off to "protect the habitats", in the 6/7 years I've been riding there.

posted by edwardbmason [39 posts]
28th March 2012 - 11:15

4 Likes

I like watching pro-cycling but to pay to see a road event is ridiculous. It's not a sport in an arena where you continuously watch the action, but short blips of motion...worth the trek for the fan, but adding a cost on top is mercenary.

onthebummel48's picture

posted by onthebummel48 [12 posts]
28th March 2012 - 11:48

6 Likes

whitey wrote:
You may not be able to pop over to Box Hill but you can watch it in Kingston... there are no plans to charge there or on other parts of the route.

http://www.kingstonfirst.co.uk/visitkingston/latestnews/news/watcholympiccyclingforfreeinkingston.aspx

True, and more than 100km of the out-and-back route is free, but there's a massive difference between watching the peloton hammer past the same spot twice at speeds getting on for 50kph, and watching the riders slog it nine times up the hill that in all probability will determine who is going to contest the finale on The Mall.

It's great there are alternative and free points to watch the race from, but if you showed cycling fans the route and asked them where they wanted to be, most would say Box Hill.

I'm not sure how widespread the news of restrictions and charges is outside the UK, but I imagine a few of Dirk Hoffman's clients are going to be disappointed when they roll up in their rented motorhomes and are told they can't get anywhere near the prime vantage point.

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8513 posts]
28th March 2012 - 11:56

3 Likes

Hopefully Box Hill tickets will be allocated using the same great system they used for all the other Olympic tickets...

Chris's picture

posted by Chris [111 posts]
28th March 2012 - 16:05

3 Likes

Is there any kind of protest going to happen? Like a mass slow ride through london or something? If they are so concerned about the wildlife then why is there a road there? Traffic does way more damage than fans! I live in Glastobury and the fields recover in a few months after the festival. LOCOG should learn that when they're in a hole to stop digging.

liam.cahill1's picture

posted by liam.cahill1 [42 posts]
28th March 2012 - 19:24

6 Likes

Simon_MacMichael wrote:
there's a massive difference between watching the peloton hammer past the same spot twice at speeds getting on for 50kph, and watching the riders slog it nine times up the hill

Lol, it's a 5% gradient, they'll be doing 30km/h, hardly a slog!

In fact, I think the entire Boxhill experience is being way oversold. The action will be pretty minimal I suspect, at least in the sense of the 5 seconds you the static viewer will see people ride past every lap. You might see an attack go if it happens to go right in front of where you're standing, but that's about it.

Go for the experience, go for the repeated chance to see the riders come by between pints, go because it's a once in a lifetime thing. But don't go watch it because you think something amazing in a cycle race will happen in front of your eyes, it probably won't. If you want that, then stay at home and watch it on TV.

posted by smaryka [17 posts]
28th March 2012 - 20:11

4 Likes

LOCOG can kiss my @rse.

Angry

posted by mdava [32 posts]
28th March 2012 - 21:05

4 Likes

smaryka wrote:
Simon_MacMichael wrote:
there's a massive difference between watching the peloton hammer past the same spot twice at speeds getting on for 50kph, and watching the riders slog it nine times up the hill

Lol, it's a 5% gradient, they'll be doing 30km/h, hardly a slog!

In fact, I think the entire Boxhill experience is being way oversold. The action will be pretty minimal I suspect, at least in the sense of the 5 seconds you the static viewer will see people ride past every lap. You might see an attack go if it happens to go right in front of where you're standing, but that's about it.

Go for the experience, go for the repeated chance to see the riders come by between pints, go because it's a once in a lifetime thing. But don't go watch it because you think something amazing in a cycle race will happen in front of your eyes, it probably won't. If you want that, then stay at home and watch it on TV.

Maybe I should have said "relative slog" then to make it clear I wasn't comparing it to Alpe d'Huez or the Tourmalet or whatever?

I reckon it's still a better place to watch than pretty much any other part of the course, and that by lap nine it will take a lot longer than 5 seconds for the field to go past.

You're right, watching TV is the best way to watch a bike race if you're interested in watching the race unfold in detail. And hopefully they'll have big screens up for that.

But it's precisely because the men's race goes round nine times and some countries/riders will have to attack in a bid to break up the field and drop the pure sprinters that should, in theory, make it a great experience to be there.

The sense of anticipation alone as the riders come round again could be fantastic - also, attacks are likely to come immediately before or on the restricted part of the climb, great to watch.

I say "in theory" - the unknown issue is how many tickets will go to actual fans, rather than corporates or locals without any particular interest in the road race other than the fact it passes by where they happen to live.

And if anyone reading this is lucky enough to go, be prepared to field questions such as 'Which one is Chris Hoy?'

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8513 posts]
28th March 2012 - 21:17

6 Likes

tony_farrelly wrote:
ALIHISGREAT wrote:
Isn't it better that we have to pay?

Isn't the point here that we've already paid? Well, if you're a UK tax payer you have, and you could certainly argue that if the people who live in or around Box Hill wanted to go and see it for free they should be able to irrespective of whether they are cycling fans.

You would also have to wonder whether if LOCOG are going to charge whether they will be retaining a slice of tickets for the corporate sector - every one of them a cycling fan no doubt… or maybe just people able to benefit from price discrimination cos they've got very large amounts of money.

I agree that locals should get priority.. but I was just trying to put a positive spin on it.

I'm not sure how popular it will be, but a restricted number of people in the hill can only be a good thing for those that get tickets...if its popular enough to warrant ticketing... would we really want to be there on a horribly overcrowded hill if it wasn't ticketed?

And the argument about thise wuth loads of money benefitting from price discrimination doesn't really make sense; given the costs of cycling I think its safe to assume most roadies can afford a £30 ticket.

posted by ALIHISGREAT [113 posts]
28th March 2012 - 22:23

4 Likes

There's an Olympics on in London this summer? I wish someone had mentioned it sooner Surprise

Low Speed Wobble's picture

posted by Low Speed Wobble [140 posts]
29th March 2012 - 3:31

5 Likes

Does anyone know anyone who's got proper olympic tickets? I know one person who's going to watch the tennis in Wimbledon and someone else who's going to a football match but no-one who's going to anything in the Olympic Park. I have tried and failed to get tickets myself twice. Meanwhile Procter and Gamble and Samsung to name but 2 have '1000's of tickets to give away' in their promotions. Nice day though...

posted by robert_obrien [118 posts]
29th March 2012 - 8:49

4 Likes

ALIHISGREAT wrote:
Isn't it better that we have to pay?

Seriously? SERIOUSLY?? It's public land! I grew up there!! Everyone has a right to goto Box Hill - bike lovers or not. Isn't it better that we have to pay?? I can't believe you wrote that. Do you work for the Olympic committee?

Thank the stars that it was France who came up with Le Tour! Can you imagine if Alp d'huez was in the UK? They'd be trying to charge £50 a head to set foot on the mountain, and people like you would be condoning it.

It is NOT okay to charge people for access to public land. Not now, not ever.

posted by Lacticlegs [124 posts]
29th March 2012 - 15:16

3 Likes

So because a decent roadbike is an expensive item, you assume a) that they can afford £30 for a ticket, and b) that it's actualy okay to chisel this out of them?

Seriously - admit it, you work for LOCOG right?

posted by Lacticlegs [124 posts]
29th March 2012 - 15:47

6 Likes

Lacticlegs wrote:
It is NOT okay to charge people for access to public land. Not now, not ever.

Just to clarify - Box Hill isn't public land, it's private land owned by the National Trust. That's a big part of the issue right there.

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8513 posts]
29th March 2012 - 16:16

4 Likes

robert_obrien wrote:
Does anyone know anyone who's got proper olympic tickets? I know one person who's going to watch the tennis in Wimbledon and someone else who's going to a football match but no-one who's going to anything in the Olympic Park. I have tried and failed to get tickets myself twice. Meanwhile Procter and Gamble and Samsung to name but 2 have '1000's of tickets to give away' in their promotions. Nice day though...

Yeah I've got some. Two sets -> one through the dodgy application system, and one via a mate. 4 tickets for the Mens 100m final athletics session (yep.), and one for the football semi finals with some mates.

Quote:
So because a decent roadbike is an expensive item, you assume a) that they can afford £30 for a ticket, and b) that it's actualy okay to chisel this out of them?

Seriously - admit it, you work for LOCOG right?

No I don't work for them.. I can just be pragmatic and see the benefits of paid ticketing, rather than being outraged at having to pay to watch a world class professional sporting event.

we don't even know how much the tickets will be yet... will you be against the tickets even if they are £10?

posted by ALIHISGREAT [113 posts]
29th March 2012 - 18:12

5 Likes

Free it should be. We've paid £10 billion s far in to this con and now we pay some more. It does not usually cost £10 billion to see a world class sporting event and usually in that case your tickets would go towards the cost of the running the event.

This is different - we have each of us already paid an estimated £150 to £300 for the Olympics. Now we are expected to pay much much more.

Me I'm off abroad for the two weeks of mayhem. My business will be shut down by the Olympics and then on my return I can wait for the total lack of any meaningful Olympic legacy.

Its just a PR exercise to justify lining the pockets of these multinationals. Has anyone seen any local business put forward as Olympic sponsors. Local business should have a voice in relation to the legacy. In the Munich games 1972 there were 28 main sponsors of which half were local. today we have 4 and one of them is responsible for Bhopal and the hospitalty organiser was up for corruption charges at Salt lake city but got off because he ratted on his mates in crime there's more much more.

I love my sport but this is just a cynical exercise of fleecing a country with the permission of its government.

The soon it goes the better. Then we can smuggly look back and say 'oh look no legacy, £10 billion wasted'.

posted by Ciaran Patrick [119 posts]
1st April 2012 - 9:10

5 Likes