Vachery organisers clarify reasons for cancelling

Local council's new application process deemed an "unreasonable abdication" of duties

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We have just received a new statement from the team behind Brave Events, organisers of Vachery Triathlon and Xterra England, explaining their reasons for cancelling Vachery in more detail and stating that the new process needed to obtain approval for any road closures represented an “unreasonable abdication” by the local council of its civic duties.

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This follows comments earlier this week by both Brave Events founder Mark Davis and the organisers of Challenge Weymouth that the future of triathlon on public highways in the UK is under threat unless clearer legislation is forthcoming.

The full statement runs as follows:

Response from Brave Events
12 Feb 2014 

We stand by our initial statement in relation to the reasons for cancelling the 2014 Vachery Triathlon.  The Council’s statement is contradictory, in that it states there was no dispute with Brave Events and then confirms the position it has adopted in relation to Vachery in 2014.  It is precisely that position – that we must follow a new process to obtain approval for any road closures – which has been the subject of dispute. 

As we have previously stated, Brave Events ran the Vachery Triathlon in 2013 on the understanding that the event was approved by the Council to run again in 2014 on the same basis (since it was not viable to run it otherwise).  That basis was quite different to the new process to which the Council refers.  As the Council has now confirmed, it did not accept our position – perhaps in recognition of the anti open-road cycling furore from local politicians and protesters that was experienced last year – and instead insisted that there was no standing agreement for Vachery to run in 2014. 

The Council maintained that it would only be able to run Vachery in 2014 by following a new and far more onerous process that requires amongst other things the unanimous support of a long list of stakeholders including all affected Parish Councils.  The requirements of this new process were completely unachievable and out of line with the agreed and implemented requirements for the event in 2013 (and in our view, beyond) and also out of line with the similar long term approval enjoyed by Prudential Ride London.  Notwithstanding that we consider we had an agreement with the Council to continue Vachery on the 2013 basis, we have made clear to the Council that the new process represents an unreasonable abdication of their local government duties to balance competing interests (in this case a minority of councillors and residents on the one hand and cyclists, the Olympic legacy and local and wider economic and health benefits on the other hand) in reaching a rational decision.

We have clearly and in great detail set out our position to the Council in an effort to resolve these issues and allow Vachery and XTERRA to continue in 2014.  The Council’s response has regrettably been cursory, not addressing the points we have raised.  We believe we had an enforceable agreement with the Council to run Vachery again on the same basis as in 2013, but are unable to mount a legal challenge that could be prohibitively expensive.  In any event given the timescales involved it would not be possible to continue organising the Vachery Triathlon and the Vachery based XTERRA England Championship off-road triathlon (a round of the XTERRA World Series with domestic racers qualifying to compete at the World Championships in Maui, Hawaii) pending the outcome of such a challenge.

Since 2012 when we first shared our plans for an annual world class closed road triathlon with Surrey County Council’s Olympic Legacy Team we have worked tirelessly towards that goal.  This year we were on target to welcome over 3,500 competitors including world and national champions and hoped that more than 10,000 supporters and spectators to would join us at The Vachery Estate for two great weekends of racing and family fun.

It is incredibly frustrating and deeply saddening to disappoint the triathletes, spectators and volunteers who shared our vision and contributed to the short but stunning sporting success of the Vachery Triathlon Festival and XTERRA England Championship off-road triathlon. 

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