Surrey County Council (SCC) has withdrawn its support for RideLondon from 2022 onwards. Councillors expressed a desire to support smaller “less disruptive events” in future.
SCC put its support of RideLondon to a vote this week after claiming that a survey had revealed that, "a significant proportion of respondents were strongly opposed to the event."
The survey in fact found that 58 per cent of respondents would support RideLondon’s continuation in Surrey for the next five years, but dissatisfaction with road closures appears to have been a decisive factor.
SCC had already proposed a shorter, 50km 'inspiration ride' for 2021 instead of the 100-mile sportive, with only four miles of the route crossing into Surrey.
Explaining that position ahead of the vote, Denise Turner-Stewart, cabinet member for communities, said: “The recommendations in the paper were not easy to make, and we held off making this decision until we had exhausted all available options to try to make the event work for our residents.
“However, the ethos of the smaller event; focusing on inspiring the take-up of cycling by women, families, and Wheels for All, more closely aligns to the Council’s objectives to encourage cycling for everyday journeys.
“Although we can no longer support the larger closed road event, we remain open minded to hosting less disruptive, smaller family focused events in future years.”
Speaking last week, the director of RideLondon warned Surrey businesses, sports clubs and charities that they stood to lose out on millions as a result of SCC’s withdrawal of support.
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. Hugh Brasher pointed out that Surrey sports clubs and community organisations will now no longer be eligible to apply.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
He added: “Events the size and scale of RideLondon are founded once every generation and uniquely, other than officer time, this event cost the county nothing.”