A parish council in Cumbria has warned that September’s Tour of Britain may have to be diverted away from a scenic road it is due to follow past Derwent Water due to its poor state of repair, and is urging Cumbria County Council to take action before a serious incident takes place.
Tour organisers SweetSpot have told road.cc that they as with all roads the race is due to follow, they are undertaking regular inspections and liaising with appropriate authorities, and are confident the stage will go ahead as planned on Monday 16 September.
The road in question, the B5289 Borrowdale road from Honister Pass to Keswick, is due to feature on the route of Stage 2 of this year’s Tour of Britain from Carlisle to Kendal, with big crowds anticipated at the beauty spot.
In its letter – also sent to local MPs, as well as the Lake District National Park Authority and Cumbria Tourism, reports the News & Star – Borrowdale Parish Council says: “It is no longer a matter of if, but rather when, a serious accident will occur on this road due to its condition, made worse by recent poor weather.
“The road has significantly deteriorated in the last two months,” it says.
That means that the road’s condition will be much worse than it would have been when the route of this year’s Tour of Britain was planned, and the letter, signed by parish council clerk Becx Clark raises the prospect that the race will not be able to follow the intended itinerary.
“Borrowdale parish council feel the condition of the road may jeopardise the chances of the event being able to be held on the B5289 due to safety considerations because of the condition of the road surface,” the letter says.
“The Tour of Britain has a very large economic and financial benefit (as proven when the event has been held elsewhere in the UK) and to lose this event and its associated benefits from the area due to the condition of the road would be very detrimental and extremely disappointing (not to mention making the area looking very bad in the publicity that would be sure to follow a route change of the Tour of Britain).
“This is a huge opportunity for Keswick and area. Let’s accommodate it and maximise its future benefits,” added the council, which has called to have the road resurfaced ahead of the Tour of Britain’s visit, and it could be that the letter is a way of putting pressure on Cumbria County Council to improve the road at a time when resources are scarce and have to be spread around.
The letter claims that the road’s condition has become “so bad that residents of the parish are considering direct action in terms of (putting up) signage at the worst defects.”
According to the News & Star, the road is particularly vulnerable to damage due to a combination of factors including inadequate drainage, flooding, severe weather, and the effect of lorries that supply hotels in the area.
A spokesman for SweetSpot told road.cc: “We do make note of poor road surfaces during the various different routing trips our technical team undertake on each of the stage routes and then work with our stakeholders to have suitable repairs and updates made on anything of particular concern.
“We work very closely with all of the local authorities and highways departments that The Tour passes through and they are all very helpful in making repairs are made where necessary for the race.
“For Stage Two we've been working closely with Cumbria County Council, Carlisle City Council and South Lakeland District Council since last Autumn and everything is on course for the stage in what will be a fabulous location for The Tour of Britain.”
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.