Wednesday, 04 August 2021

Fingers crossed for race road closures

RESIDENTS and businesses are hoping that the third Challenge Henley triathlon will cause less disruption than in previous years.

RESIDENTS and businesses are hoping that the third Challenge Henley triathlon will cause less disruption than in previous years.

A record number of competitors will take part in Sunday’s event, which has a new 180km cycle route that passes through Nettlebed, Howe Hill and Rotherfield Greys.

Just Racing UK, which organises Challenge, says additional marshalls and a new road closure system should minimise disruption to households on the route and in the surrounding area.

A spokeswoman said letters detailing the road closures had been sent out to all homes on the route and the adjoining cul-de-sacs.

“We have put new measures in place,” she said. “We have got a new system with the motorcycle escorts and we hope that disruption will be kept to a minimum.”

Henley Mayor Stefan Gawrysiak said: “We can only hope that the promises Just Racing has given are kept because, if they aren’t, there will be serious questions to answer.

“There are a lot of things they have got to do to improve the event and make it acceptable to Henley. They have got to look seriously at different routes next year because closing several roads for up to 12 hours is wrong.

“However, we hope that Sunday’s triathlon is successful and that all the things they have put in place to enable people to get out of their homes will work.”

Henley MP John Howell, who will be holding a meeting to review the effect of the triathlon, said: “The success of the event entirely depends on Just Racing and whether they can deliver on their promises.We hope that they can and it will settle down but we will just have to wait and see.”

Badgemore Park Golf Club’s annual men’s invitation event will go ahead on Sunday, even though competitors will be faced with diversions.

General manager Jon Connell said the triathlon was a “real inconvenience”, adding: “I don’t see why we should change our event, which has been running for more than a decade, because this new event has come to town.”

Joan Bland, a town councillor, who owns Asquiths teddy bear shop in New Street and has previously criticised Challenge, said she would have to pay her staff not to come to work on Sunday for the second year running.

“It seems to be just as badly organised as usual,” she said. “We will see — maybe it will be a success. Nobody is against sport but the closed roads are taking away our liberty.”

Peter Richardson, who lives in Howe Hill, said he received information from Just Racing UK about the road closures three weeks ago.

“My view is ‘live and let live’,” he said. “If it was a more regular occurrence I would probably feel more strongly about it.”

The Just Racing UK spokeswoman said plans for 2014 event would announced later.

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