The director of RideLondon has warned that Surrey businesses, sports clubs and charities stand to lose out on millions if the county council follows through on a recommendation to withdraw its support for the event at a meeting next week.
Surrey County Council (SCC) has said that it doesn't intend to host the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100-mile sportive event in 2022 and beyond with a vote scheduled for Tuesday October 27.
The council claims that a survey revealed, "a significant proportion of respondents were strongly opposed to the event" – even though 58 per cent said they would support the continuation of it for the next five years.
SCC has instead proposed a shorter 50km 'inspiration ride' with only four miles of the route crossing into Surrey, reasoning that smaller events will be "less disruptive" to businesses and residents.
It said this kind of event would more closely align with its objective of enabling more people to cycle for everyday journeys, “compared with longer events focused primarily on sports cycling."
RideLondon director Hugh Brasher said the council’s position was, “surprising and disappointing,” given the public consultation found a majority in favour of RideLondon taking place in the county.
He was also at pains to emphasise the various ways in which the county had benefited from RideLondon since 2013.
The London Marathon Charitable Trust awards grants to recreational projects in areas where London Marathon Events Ltd organises events as a way of thanking communities for their support.
Brasher said: “At a time when charities and community organisations are facing huge financial difficulties, it is very unfortunate that if the cabinet ratifies this recommendation, Surrey sports clubs and community organisations will no longer be eligible to apply for grants from The London Marathon Charitable Trust.
“More than £4.8m has now been awarded to 93 projects in Surrey since 2013 as a direct benefit of RideLondon taking place in the county – that’s an average of £685,000 per year in funding to Surrey projects for the past seven years.”
Highlighting wider spending resulting from the event, he continued: “Furthermore, millions of pounds have been spent with Surrey businesses and millions of pounds raised for Surrey charities as a direct result of RideLondon.
“Other benefits from the event include more than £50m value of the promotion of Surrey as a tourist destination, the direct benefits to physical and mental health of cycling and a reduction in pollution levels through more people cycling.
“If this recommendation is ratified on 27 October, then Surrey will cease to host what is recognised as the world’s greatest festival of cycling. Events the size and scale of RideLondon are founded once every generation and uniquely (other than officer time) this event cost the county nothing.
“The huge tangible and intangible benefits of the event will be lost to Surrey by rejecting what future generations will acknowledge as ‘The London Marathon’ of cycling.”