Thursday, 19 October 2017

‘No one consulted us about road closures for triathlon’

BUSINESSES and organisations affected by this year’s Challenge Henley event have criticised the organisers for failing to contact them.

BUSINESSES and organisations affected by this year’s Challenge Henley event have criticised the organisers for failing to contact them.

Just Racing UK has promised “better communication” with visitor attractions, churches, pubs and other businesses on the cycle route but many say they have heard nothing.

These include the National Trust, which owns Greys Court and Nuffield Place, Huntercombe Golf Club, the White Hart in Nettlebed, the Cherry Tree in Stoke Row and the Unicorn in Kingwood.

Road closures will be in place between 6am and 6pm for the event on Sunday, September 8 as the cyclists race along sections of the A4130 between Henley and Nuffield and the B481 between Nettlebed and Watlington.

Just Racing has said a new, unseen cycle route will be submitted to Oxfordshire County Council and will help to minimise disruption.

A spokesman for the National Trust said it hadn’t been consulted and that Jane Greenhaf, general manager for Greys Court and Nuffield Place, hadn’t known about the latest route.

Doug Green, who runs Brakspear pubs the Cherry Tree and the Unicorn as well as the Little Angel in Henley, said: “I have had no form of communication. I employ 50 to 60 people locally and run three pubs and I have received nothing. It’s disgraceful.”

Mr Green estimated he would lose up to £9,000 between the two pubs affected by the road closures. He said: “It’s all about financial gain for Just Racing UK. I think they should be talking to people — isn’t that what democracy is all about?”

Mark Cawthorn, operations manager for the White Hart, said: “The event will affect business really badly as Sunday is a busy day for us with the carvery.”

He said businesses on the route should be well-informed so that the disruption from road closures could be minimised, as was the case when the Olympic torch relay passed through Nettlebed last July.

He said: “We have a saying in this business that you are either an ambassador or an assassin and the way Just Racing behave is going to affect whether people want to get involved and support it or be negative.”

Nick Jenkins, secretary at Huntercombe Golf Club, said: “We haven’t been contacted. It would have certainly been extremely helpful if we had been included because a lot of people will be visiting the club on that day from the Henley direction. It would have been nice if there had been a bit of consultation.” But Peter Bland, landlord of the Maltsters Arms in Rotherfield Greys, said he was taking a “positive attitude” after meeting with Just Racing UK.

He has been offered a free advertisement in the race programme to try to encourage athletes and their families to visit the pub before the event.

Mr Bland said: “I was actually relatively impressed. They are trying to do the best they can for me. Nothing is going to change, the route is still shutting us off but there is nothing much I can do about that so it’s just trying to do the best we can.”

Lord Camoys, who owns Stonor Park, says business owners off the route should also have been consulted.

“We are being as badly damaged as those who are on the route,” he said. “We will also have to close even though we are not now on the direct route because with Fair Mile shut there is no point in us opening. Very few people will know that there is a route to Stonor through Ipsden and Turville and so on.

“I think it is extraordinary. How the county council thinks it has been through due process and considered the consequences of closing the road I do not know.”

He said Alan Rose, director of Just Racing UK, had failed to turn up to a meeting with Stonor Parish Council last year to discuss the route and another member of the organising team attended in his place.

“He doesn’t want to hear what we have to say,” said Lord Camoys.

Jon Connell, general manager of Badgemore Park Golf Club, agreed businesses off the route should have been consulted. The club’s annual men’s invitation day is scheduled to take place on the day of the triathlon.

Mr Connell said: “We have received no contact whatsoever, which is very disappointing. The community should be consulted, perhaps via the parish councils.”

Katie Cuthbert, regional fund-raising manager for Sue Ryder, said she was liaising with Just Racing to ensure there was limited impact on the charity’s hospice in Nettlebed.

A county council spokesman said: “The decision on which route they want to submit sits with Just Racing and it would be for them to carry out any consultation.

“We await their final submission and, once we have received it, will confirm that it is safe and inform frontagers of the route.”

Just Racing UK declined to comment.

A spokesman for the National Trust said it hadn’t been consulted and that Jane Greenhaf, general manager for Greys Court and Nuffield Place, hadn’t known about the latest route.

Doug Green, who runs Brakspear pubs the Cherry Tree and the Unicorn as well as the Little Angel in Henley, said: “I have had no form of communication. I employ 50 to 60 people locally and run three pubs and I have received nothing. It’s disgraceful.”

Mr Green estimated he would lose up to £9,000 between the two pubs affected by the road closures. He said: “It’s all about financial gain for Just Racing UK. I think they should be talking to people — isn’t that what democracy is all about?”

Mark Cawthorn, operations manager for the White Hart, said: “The event will affect business really badly as Sunday is a busy day for us with the carvery.”

He said businesses on the route should be well-informed so that the disruption from road closures could be minimised, as was the case when the Olympic torch relay passed through Nettlebed last July.

He said: “We have a saying in this business that you are either an ambassador or an assassin and the way Just Racing behave is going to affect whether people want to get involved and support it or be negative.”

Nick Jenkins, secretary at Huntercombe Golf Club, said: “We haven’t been contacted. It would have certainly been extremely helpful if we had been included because a lot of people will be visiting the club on that day from the Henley direction. It would have been nice if there had been a bit of consultation.” But Peter Bland, landlord of the Maltsters Arms in Rotherfield Greys, said he was taking a “positive attitude” after meeting with Just Racing UK.

He has been offered a free advertisement in the race programme to try to encourage athletes and their families to visit the pub before the event.

Mr Bland said: “I was actually relatively impressed. They are trying to do the best they can for me. Nothing is going to change, the route is still shutting us off but there is nothing much I can do about that so it’s just trying to do the best we can.”

Lord Camoys, who owns Stonor Park, says business owners off the route should also have been consulted.

“We are being as badly damaged as those who are on the route,” he said. “We will also have to close even though we are not now on the direct route because with Fair Mile shut there is no point in us opening. Very few people will know that there is a route to Stonor through Ipsden and Turville and so on.

“I think it is extraordinary. How the county council thinks it has been through due process and considered the consequences of closing the road I do not know.”

He said Alan Rose, director of Just Racing UK, had failed to turn up to a meeting with Stonor Parish Council last year to discuss the route and another member of the organising team attended in his place.

“He doesn’t want to hear what we have to say,” said Lord Camoys.

Jon Connell, general manager of Badgemore Park Golf Club, agreed businesses off the route should have been consulted. The club’s annual men’s invitation day is scheduled to take place on the day of the triathlon.

Mr Connell said: “We have received no contact whatsoever, which is very disappointing. The community should be consulted, perhaps via the parish councils.”

Katie Cuthbert, regional fund-raising manager for Sue Ryder, said she was liaising with Just Racing to ensure there was limited impact on the charity’s hospice in Nettlebed.

A county council spokesman said: “The decision on which route they want to submit sits with Just Racing and it would be for them to carry out any consultation.

“We await their final submission and, once we have received it, will confirm that it is safe and inform frontagers of the route.”

Just Racing UK declined to comment.

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