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Legacy event has been discussed for more than a year - so is Lib Dem councillor right to accuse council of secrecy?

Surrey County Council is being accused of signing a five year deal to hold a 100 mile Olympic legacy elite race and cyclosportive ‘in secret’.

Last week, at a live BBC radio debate about the future of cycling in Surrey, Helyn Clack of Surrey County Council mentioned the next five years of the Prudential London-Surrey 100, part of the RideLondon festival of cycling.

The event is run in partnership with SweetSpot, the Surrey-based company that has staged the Tour of Britain for the past decade since the race was relaunched in 2004, and is followed on the same course by the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic pro race.

The county's Lib Dem group leader Hazel Watson accused the Conservative-run cabinet of unfairly denying the public an "opportunity to scrutinise or raise concerns about the decision" - saying that the public had not been made aware the decision to hold the event for four more years.

She told This Is Surrey: "It is unclear when and who made the decision to allow the event to take place in Surrey for five years from 2013, as the only formal decision by the cabinet in December 2011 made no reference to a five-year commitment.

"The decision-making relating to these cycle events was far from open and transparent, and may not have met the legal requirements for such a decision to be taken."

But it seems that the accusation that it was not publicly known that the event would be held for five years is baseless.

In August 2012, during the final days of the London Olympic Games, the BBC was announces as being the event’s broadcast partner for five years, as the ballot for places to ride the event was opened.

It was also revealed that it would be managed by the London & Surrey Cycling Partnership (LSCP), a partnership between The London Marathon Limited (owners & operators of the London Marathon since 1981) and SweetSpot Group Limited (operators of The Tour of Britain).

In the original announcement by the Mayor of London on August 10, it was stated that the event “will become an annual cycling festival...[and] bring millions of pounds of economic benefit into London through national and international participation plus hundreds of thousands of spectators and worldwide TV audiences.

“It will provide a long term source of income for investment into improving conditions for cycling in London and provide opportunities to channel people to other cycling initiatives.”

A City of London consultation document from November 2012 show that the five year plan for the event was well known at that early stage. It states: ”This annual cycling festival is planned to take place for the next five years attracting worldwide TV audiences.”

In addition, the ongoing nature of the event had already been discussed openly in front of the council.

According to Helyn Clack, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Services, speaking at a council meeting in September, of which the minutes are available online: “This event is a joint 5 year project between Surrey County Council and the Mayor of London's Office.”

The county council released a statement which read: "The decision to hold RideLondon-Surrey was made legally. The route was consulted on and advance notice of both the event and road closures was given.

"Plans have to be agreed each year before the event takes place."

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.

6 comments

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pwmedcraft [27 posts] 2 years ago
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I am one of Hazel Watson's constituents and I get her newsletter shoved through my door, in which she comes across as anti-cycling and as a typical point-scoring politician, more interested in getting elected than making things better. The only time I have asked her for help (with a dangerously short-phased traffic light in Dorking on NCR 22 which could have resulted in injury or worse) I was ignored. The local Conservative councillor helped to get the light phasing changed within weeks.

I will never vote for her.

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Leviathan [1867 posts] 2 years ago
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Nice, four more chances to get in again. Executive decisions for once means not listening to a whining class of nimbys.

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jova54 [648 posts] 2 years ago
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At least 'freespirit' of this parish has a chance to get his work rotas and holidays sorted for the next four years.

As bikeboy says, 4 more chances to get a place and plenty of time to get fit for the last one  4

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sm [375 posts] 2 years ago
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Four more years? Given the success of the first this is here to stay. A little more negotiation with the locals for sure.

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Gizmo_ [1381 posts] 2 years ago
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One thing I wonder about this and the famous petition - did the London marathon face similar opposition in 1981 when they first started? And now it's one of the fixtures of the London calendar along with boat race weekend and the New Years fireworks (none of which I'd attend even if you paid me).

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northstar [1108 posts] 2 years ago
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sm wrote:

Four more years? Given the success of the first this is here to stay. A little more negotiation with the locals for sure.

It's one day, there is nothing to negotiate (especially from what I saw watching the events) they are just throwing their toys out of the pram.