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Cash injection approved to save Brighton's historic velodrome

Preston Park repairs will take place after British Cycling banned competitive events over safety fears

Brighton and Hove councillors have approved a plan to inject £300,000 of cash to save the historic outdoor velodrome at Preston Park.

British Cycling stopped racing there in January over safety concerns, and refurbishment options were up in the air until an agreement was made for the funding, which will also be matched with £100,000 from British Cycling.

Thousands signed a petition urging for the work to be carried out and the historic arena, dug out by hand by the British Army in 1877, to be saved.

When the track re-opened at the end of the First World War, the surface was made of cinders, meaning riders who had crashed had to be taken to the club house to have the cinders removed with hot water and a scrubbing brush.

Development director at British Cycling, John Mills, said: "We welcome the decision by Brighton and Hove City Council to commit funding for the refurbishment of the Preston Park facility.

"This is a boost for all levels of cycling in Brighton and the wider South East region as a whole. We look forward to working with the council to prepare a successful funding application and to deliver the refurbishment project."

Councillor Warren Morgan said: "We have approved match funding for the cycle track improvements as a one-off project and we'll also be working with the Friends of Preston Park to draw up a long-term management plan to enhance the park for all its users," he said.

The velodrome is Britain's oldest cycling track, and once the repairs have taken place, it can be used for cycling competitions.

Earlier this year we reported how the campaign to restore Preston Park cycle track slowed down with the staging of a 'slow ride' to demonstrate the depth of feeling about the state of the tarmac velodrome.

Brighton and Hove News estimated that despite the rain, around 300 people turned out for the slow ride which was organised by Rupert Rivett of Sussex Cycle Racing League.

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.

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