Cycle campaigners in Derby are urging supporters of the velodrome planned for the East Midlands city to take urgent action to try and secure its future following a change of control in the local council after last week’s local elections. The incoming Labour administration was against the scheme while in opposition. Derby Cycling says that a free vote on whether it should go ahead is due to take place on Monday and has called on those in favour of the scheme to contact councillors urgently to express their support.
Planning permission has already been secured for the £28 million multisport facility of which the velodrome forms part, which would be located next to Derby County’s Pride Park stadium, with the project supported by the outgoing Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition which lost control of the council to Labour following last Thursday’s poll.
Bookings have already been taken for track time at the facility, which is due to open in 2014, and is eagerly anticipated by cyclists in the East Midlands and beyond who currently have to travel to Manchester or Newport, assuming they can secure time there.
It had been thought that the Conservative leader of the council, Philip Hickson, would sign the contract for the development prior to leading office, but he has told BBC News Derby that it would now be wrong for him to do so after losing power.
"I would like to see it signed as soon as possible but within two days of [Labour leader] Paul Bayliss assuming the leadership of the city council, I think it would be morally questionable for me to sign it off and give them the let out of not making the decision to build the arena.
"I think they must now, after all the public pronouncements they have made about it, make a decision one way or the other," he added.
Martin Repton, Labour's cabinet member for leisure and culture, commented: "We genuinely have not made a decision to cancel it at this stage.
He added: "It is important when making a decision of this magnitude that we do so in an informed way and we take on board the opinions of everyone in the Labour group and people in the city."
Dave Clasby of Derby Cycling told the BBC that he was optimistic about the facility being given the go ahead.
"I just think this is a facility that will put Derby on the map,” he explained.
"It will create jobs in the construction, it will create jobs when it is built, it will bring people into the city and it is something the city really needs."
According to Derby Cycling’s blog, the future of the multisports arena including the velodrome will be determined by a free vote of councillors taking place on next Monday 14 May. 11, 12
Supporters of the project are being urged to contact councillors to ask them to back the scheme, and details of how to do so are included in that blog post.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.