BRITISH Cycling must put more pressure on the Government to change the rules over policing of road races, says former organiser of the Archer Grand Prix, Stuart Benstead.
The 52-year-old event, cancelled last year due to the costs of policing, has this year fallen victim to the recession, failing to find the £20,000 sponsorship required to fund it.
Benstead says: “The costs of [the police] escort together with the road closure order would have been easily the biggest proportion of the whole budget.
“It is a huge pity that British Cycling and the road running and horse trial governing bodies have failed to persuade the government to introduce new legislation for alternative self-regulation safety measures for such events. So major charity road runs as well as cycle events have been lost.”
The Archer Grand Prix is one of Britain's premier one day cycle races - forming a key part of British Cycling's Premier Calendar. The race traditionally takes place in the Spring, routed around the roads and lanes of the Chiltern Hills.
Jonny Clay, cycle sport and membership director of British Cycling said he could understand Mr Benstead’s disappointment but defended the charge British Cycling hadn’t done enough.
He said documentation had been sent to the Home Office, the Department for Culture Media and Sport, and the Department of Transport calling for reform of outdated regulations and lack of consistency between police forces on decision-making and pricing.
He told road.cc: “We’re still working with very old regulations – The Cycle Racing and Highways Regulations, 1960.
“They give a huge amount of autonomy to individual police forces and we’re looking for changes to legislation that would make this less subjective. There are also huge inconsistencies in charging.”
But for now, the final hope for events like the Archer GP could lie in the Community Safety Accreditation Scheme (CSAS), designed for roadworks and traffic management situations, which could allow race staff to legally stop and control traffic and reduce the need for a police presence.
Clay said: “That reduces the costs for organisers and puts control back in our hands but it’s not the panacea. Only 60% of police officers have signed up to CSAS. A change of regulation is required and also consistent decision-making and charging.”