Bristol 'crossgate: Council now working with CX organisers

Craig Denning from Dream Cycling reports Council onside with finding suitable venues

by Dave Atkinson   November 15, 2012  

David Arthur Stanmer Park CX (Photo © Gavin Peacock)

Good news people! We've just been talking to Craig Denning from Dream Cycles, the chap who originally filled us in about the de facto ban on cyclocross at Bristol Council sites. He's been meeting Council officials today and they're going to work together to find suitable venues in the city.

"It's been a mad couple of days," Craig told us. "I've been on local radio [here] and the phone's barely stopped ringing. But the upshot is that I've been in a meeting with four of the councillors today and they've agreed to work to find venues in the city where the races can take place. So in the next couple of months they'll suggest some venues and I'll go and have a look to see if we can set up courses on them"

This is great news, and a long way from the council's stated 'two-and-a-half grand or you can't play on the grass' position that was in their written statement to the BBC Bristol Breakfast Show which Craig, and Anthony de Heveningham of Bristol Trals Group, contributed to this morning. In terms of sustainability of the sport it might even end up being a better solution than the previous one, in that i'll be incumbent on the Council to make a more studied assessment of the likely damage a CX race would cause to a given location, giving organisers a stronger position come the application for licenses.

Craig suggested that the Western League races this winter are still likely to be affected, although possibly not cancelled. "The Council pretty much conceded that Hengrove was one of the better suited sites for cyclocross, but it's two late for our race this Sunday which has been switched to Gloucester. There's another round scheduled for Oldbury Court [on 16 December] but since that's more of an ornamental park [it's grade II listed parkland] that's probably going to need to move," he said. It's hard to see how the council could have much objection to using a corner of the expansive Ashton Court estate, though, and there's plenty of other council-owned open spaces in Bristol that are large and not particularly busy in the winter.

Anyway, the future of cyclocross in Bristol seems in a better state than it was yesterday, and that's thanks to everyone that's called on the Council to look at their decision making over this. Keep up the pressure, and we'll report when we hear more about the new arrangements.

10 user comments

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Great stuff..

Blimey, fast moving news day for Bristol CX.

posted by stevboss [19 posts]
15th November 2012 - 17:54

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Just a thought, has the Western League contacted their BC Regional Events Guy, who might be able to help finding support? I think Bristol is on the edge of South and SW regions, so one of the REOs should be the person to speak to.

Doc

posted by doc [167 posts]
15th November 2012 - 18:38

3 Likes

Craig asked if we could post the minutes of the meeting, so here they are:

MINUTES

Meeting Date Time Location
Cyclo Cross 15th Nov 12:00 Council House Room 3
Attendees
Colleen Bevan - (CB) Service Manager Environment and Leisure (Chair)
BCC
Jonathon Amphlett -(JA) Sport / Health Development Manager BCC
Richard Stransom - (RS) Parks Operations Manager BCC
Peter Watts - (PW) Site Permissions BCC
Craig Denning - (CD) Cyclo Cross Organiser
Mark Hoxton - (MH) Cyclo Cross Organiser
Apologies CC
Richard Bevan - Estates Manager

Agenda Items

1, Cyclo Cross events in 2012 -123Agenda
Item Discussion Points/ Outcomes & Actions
1 Introductions and apologies
Richard Bevan sent apologies

2 Cyclo Cross
Colleen Bevan opened proceedings by explaining that the meeting
had been called to gain a greater understanding of Cyclo Cross and start
to formulate a balance of needs between Parks, Licensing, Sports and the
Cyclo Cross team.

CB advised that the meeting had been called as quickly as possible in
response to media enquires and messages relating to a perception that
BCC has ‘Banned’ Cycling in its Parks and Estates.

CD accounted for the log that had stirred up media interest explaining
that once notification that the Henbury event was de to be cancelled the
blog went live.

CD advised that the event has now moved to Glos.

Some discussion then followed about the Cyclo cross league series with
MH offering some background to the sport. An explanation of the
difference between Mountain bikes and Cyclo Cross bikes was outlined
with bikes available for those present to inspect.

CD explained that Cyclo Cross is primarily a winter based sport that is
becoming more popular involving a 2k circuit that is lapped
approximately 6 - 8 times.

Cyclo Cross is divided into age groups ranging from 6 - 65. An entry
fee is charged.

MH advised that for the league series in the South West region average
participants are between 20 - 30 with numbers occasionally reaching 50.

PW gave some content to the ongoing discussions with the Cyclo Cross
team about perceived damage to sites. PW referred to a meeting held a
year ago with John Williams (Estates) in which similar concerns were
discussed. At the time it was agreed that the full site licence was
more applicable for this type of activity and improvement to site maps
have been evident over the last few applications.

CB discussed that budgets are limited and concerns do arise during wet
weather about the damage to parks from a wide range of activity. She
also explained that the Parks team have to consider all users of the
park when reaching decisions.

CB was very clear that BCC has an ambition to see Cyclo Cross continue.
It is not the intention to ban Cyclo Cross or any other type of cycling
event She identified positive links to foster and develop with Sports
that may be of mutual benefit to all parties.

CB was keen to produce a list of sites that BCC would encourage Cyclo
Cross activity to take place on, these sites would be less high impact
for park users. Initial discussion used Hengrove as currently it would
be suitable (pre development work)

MH advised that at each an every event they liaise with the Park
managers checking the site beforehand to minimise any impact on the
land.

CB stated that she understood the role of licensing in ensuring our
duty of care was upheld and recognised that Sports need to engage in
this process.

Regarding the subject of bonds CB advised this isn’t an easy mater to
resolve as BCC needs to protect its parks but was optimistic that moving
forward an arrangement may ebb reached to help support the bond.

ACTION: RS and Richard Bevan to discuss options for sites in 2013

MH advised that this work will need to be ready by early Jan so they
can settle on sites for the 2013 league.

CD advised he would ensure positive messages relating to BCC’s
support of Cyclo Cross would be communicated.

ACTION: Decision to be reached about the December event ASAP via RS
and PW.

Meeting Ended

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7504 posts]
15th November 2012 - 18:54

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Well that is good news. I think with some cooperation and communication cyclo-cross should be back on the menu in Bristol. Excellent. Applause

posted by seanbolton [145 posts]
15th November 2012 - 20:34

5 Likes

While this is undoubtedly good news, and hopefully the story will have a happy ending, you have to wonder why it all kicked off in the first place? Where does this ingrained antipathy to cycling come from?

Road CC and various other pro-cycling websites and pressure groups are very quick to stand up for the sport when the anti-cycling brigade appear on the horizon, and generally speaking, climb-downs and apologies soon follow... but why does it happen? And so regularly? Thinking

nowasps's picture

posted by nowasps [263 posts]
15th November 2012 - 21:09

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nowasps wrote:
Road CC and various other pro-cycling websites and pressure groups are very quick to stand up for the sport when the anti-cycling brigade appear on the horizon, and generally speaking, climb-downs and apologies soon follow... but why does it happen? And so regularly? Thinking

Lack of understanding.
NIMBY-ism
Perceptions
Response to complaints from "Angry of ..."

I've helped organise/marshal many CX events over the years and one in particular stands out for the sheer unwillingness of the locals to compromise. Again, council-owned parkland, we're marking out the course and dog walkers are going round cutting the tapes or walking on the course while the race is on. "I always walk my dog here, if a cyclist hits me, I'll sue" and "You've got no right to take over public land, I'll complain to the council"

Unbelieveable attitude but the council then have to respond to these complaints. Unfortunately, the easiest way to respond is to ban the cause of the complaint (sometimes, like here, using flimsy excuses to try to get around the fact that they don't really understand the issues) rather than spend time and effort reaching a compromise. Occasionally, you also get one jobsworth council person who's dead against "x" (whatever "x" might be) and will do all in their powers to prevent it. Not saying that's the case here (I genuinely don't know) but I've seen it happen before, not just with cycling.

Sounds like considerably better news than yesterday, hats off to the local riders/organisers and to the various cycling websites for forcing them to rethink.

posted by crazy-legs [568 posts]
15th November 2012 - 21:29

1 Like

Reminds me of when I was careering down an MTB trail in Afan Forest only to find a group of purple cagoule-wearing ramblers exercising their 'right to roam' back up it.

I was also assured, as I got to my feet, that I would have been sued if I had hit them.

nostromo's picture

posted by nostromo [65 posts]
15th November 2012 - 21:49

2 Likes

crazy-legs wrote:
nowasps wrote:
Road CC and various other pro-cycling websites and pressure groups are very quick to stand up for the sport when the anti-cycling brigade appear on the horizon, and generally speaking, climb-downs and apologies soon follow... but why does it happen? And so regularly? Thinking

Lack of understanding.
NIMBY-ism
Perceptions
Response to complaints from "Angry of ..."

I've helped organise/marshal many CX events over the years and one in particular stands out for the sheer unwillingness of the locals to compromise. Again, council-owned parkland, we're marking out the course and dog walkers are going round cutting the tapes or walking on the course while the race is on. "I always walk my dog here, if a cyclist hits me, I'll sue" and "You've got no right to take over public land, I'll complain to the council"

Unbelieveable attitude but the council then have to respond to these complaints. Unfortunately, the easiest way to respond is to ban the cause of the complaint (sometimes, like here, using flimsy excuses to try to get around the fact that they don't really understand the issues) rather than spend time and effort reaching a compromise. Occasionally, you also get one jobsworth council person who's dead against "x" (whatever "x" might be) and will do all in their powers to prevent it. Not saying that's the case here (I genuinely don't know) but I've seen it happen before, not just with cycling.

Sounds like considerably better news than yesterday, hats off to the local riders/organisers and to the various cycling websites for forcing them to rethink.


Yes. Often councils find themselves caught between opposing forces and believe me, dog-walker are very, very vociferous. It may seem like cowardice, but you have to at least try to empathise with managers following the path of least resistance, even if you don't agree.

Glad to see a sensible resolution to this situation, although I always despair a little when I see councils paint themselves into stupid corners.

Rob Simmonds's picture

posted by Rob Simmonds [253 posts]
15th November 2012 - 23:45

4 Likes

Sounds more positive than it was, thanks to craig, martin, Mr Agreeable and road.cc for 'the media interest!' Wink

posted by AnalogueAndy [27 posts]
16th November 2012 - 5:13

2 Likes

Good news indeed! I'm intrigued as to what happens next. Ive loved racing the Western league series, great races close to home.

Benjamin Hall's picture

posted by Benjamin Hall [64 posts]
16th November 2012 - 22:37

5 Likes