Saturday, 25 November 2017

Chef turns up heat on triathlon organisers

CELEBRITY chef Antony Worrall Thompson has joined opponents of the proposed cycle route for this year’s Challenge Henley event.

CELEBRITY chef Antony Worrall Thompson has joined opponents of the proposed cycle route for this year’s Challenge Henley event.

There are three possible routes all of which require 12-hour road closures, causing businesses and tourist attractions to close on Sunday, September 8.

Details of a fourth possible route, which would cause less disruption, have not been revealed by the triathlon organisers Just Racing (UK).

Worrall Thompson, 61, said he wasn’t against Challenge in principle but was upset that the Greyhound pub in Peppard, which he runs, could have to shut on its best trading day of the week. He said: “It’s good for Henley to encourage people to come to the area but then they can’t get to some of the restaurants because of the event.

“Why should we have to close for a commercial venture? It’s not a charity. We all love coming out standing on the road as the cyclists whoosh past but then the road should open again. Why do they have to be closed all day?

“I just feel the route is misguided. There must be routes they can use which make Henley look progressive but not at the expense of people’s livelihoods. Last year the Crown Inn in Pishill had to close and in Sonning Common no one is particularly keen on it because they are trapped. It’s crazy.”

Oxfordshire County Council has asked parish councils in the area for their views on three prospective routes and is due to reveal the responses next week.

Henley Town Council has agreed to support the event, subject to minimal disruption to residents, but Peppard, Sonning Common, Bix & Assendon, Rotherfield Greys and Watlington parish councils have either written letters of objection or refused to choose a preferred route. The routes have also been criticised by the National Trust, which would have to close Greys Court and Nuffield Place on one of their most popular days for visitors, and Badgemore Golf Club, which also faces having to shut.

Huntercombe Golf Club and Huntercombe prison would also be affected.

The closure of part of the B481 would isolate more than 140 homes in Peppard as well as Manor Farm business park, the Greenshoots charity, Ruchetta restaurant, Peppard Bowls Club and All Saints’ Church.

Peppard parish clerk Linda Collison has said the parish council welcomes the triathlon “in principle” because of the potential boost to Henley and because it promotes exercise.

But she said: “All three proposed routes would cause inconvenience and disruption to residents of Rotherfield Peppard. Access to Henley, while theoretically possible for some via Sonning Common and Harpsden, would be severely limited as would routes to the north.”

Sonning Common Parish Council has raised “serious concerns” about the possible routes and accused the organisers of a “lack of co-operation and communication”.

Just Racing says it has had “positive feedback”. In a statement, it said: “Although some councillors have negative opinions, it is Oxfordshire County Council which decides whether the event goes ahead and it has supported the event throughout and will continue to do so.”

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