New policy for ‘Velo’ style major events in West Sussex

Velo South
Velo South

Consultation with residents has been put to the fore in a new policy being drafted for major events involving road closures in West Sussex.

The revised protocol was promised after fury from residents last year over road closures planned for Velo South, a 100-mile closed route cycling event.

Velo South route

Velo South route

Velo 2018 was called off with just days to go due to adverse weather forecasts, but not before threats of protest and even legal action had been made by locals opposed to the event.

Read more: How Velo South became so controversial

Organisers CSM Active had defended the event as having the potential to raise thousands for charity. It had discussed road closure plans with residents at public meetings and advertised road closures using leaflet drops and road signs.

The county council has now approved a new framework for dealing with similar events requiring road closures, via a decision by the cabinet member for highways and infrastructure.

It noted councillors were reassured the policy would: ‘address many of the issues highlighted by the communities with regards to ‘Velo’ and would allow the cabinet member to refuse permission for events to be held if the mitigation offered is not suitable or the risk to the community too high’.

The event organiser will be required to consult with ‘the public, communities, businesses, public services and other persons likely to be affected’ in a ‘timely and transparent way’.

Stipulations include an 18-month timeline to notify the council and consult with emergency services, highways officers, and communication teams.

Six months before any proposed event, there would be a ‘progress review’ of public and business awareness with the council’s event organiser.

In deciding whether or not to approve an event, the protocol ‘recognises that adverse impacts on communities must be removed or sufficiently outweighed by the economic, social and health benefits’.

The council will consider issues such as the event organisers’ reputation, benefits to the economy and tourism, potential social benefits, feedback from local representatives, and evidence of community consultation.

Support for an event may also be withdrawn by the council in various circumstances, including a failure to consult with communities, or adverse weather conditions.