Paignton velodrome plan would be "a great benefit to the Bay"
By PGStrange | Wednesday, March 06, 2013, 19:27
PLANS TO make Paignton a major hub for cycling in the South West would be "a great benefit to the Bay", says a leading Torbay councillor. And he believes that if a proposed velodrome and closed road circuit near Paignton can be funded, the new facility would be "safer" and more environmentally friendly than current cycle races, held on open roads...
Robert Excell - Torbay Council lead member for sport - believes that a proposed closed road circuit near Paignton would be safer than cycle races on public roads
Robert Excell, Torbay Council lead member for sport, made his comments following the announcement that the council has agreed to support the building of a £1.6m cycling facility at Clennon Valley, near Paignton. The project has also been endorsed by British Cycling - the national governing body for cycling - with the promise of match funding.
The new cycling facility would consist of two elements. The velodrome - a 400m banked oval track - is likely to be similar to the one in Herne Hill, south London, while the closed road circuit would be 1.5km in length. It's proposed that Torbay Council would own and manage both elements for community use and competitive cycling.
"We are delighted with the overwhelming support from the cycling fraternity for a velodrome in Torbay and will continue to work with British Cycling and other partners to advance the proposals," said a Torbay Council spokesperson.
But funding has yet to be found. The Council, which has decided to freeze Council Tax for the coming year, says it is seeking "proposals from prospective developers or investors for the cycling facilities... who will provide funding to match the British Cycling grant contribution to the facilities".
Despite this, Conservative Councillor Robert Excell is "99 per cent" certain that the cycling facility will be realised. If it does go ahead, he says it will be beneficial for the area.
"It would be a great benefit to the people of the Bay," said Cllr Excell. "We've been recognised by British Cycling. We are the ideal destination for the product that they have to offer because of the infrastructure we've got. We've got the destination, we've got the accommodation, we've got the lifestyle, the sun, the sea and all the facilities - such as the Leisure Centre next door - around it. This will enhance it."
Cllr Excell says that the new cycling facilty would offer a safe, environmentally friendly environment for competitive cycling.
"One of the reasons I'm passionate about it is the safety aspect," he said. Referring to the death of Junior Heffernan, the 23-year-old cyclist from Yelverton, killed recently when he was involved in a collision with a car during a road race in Gloucestershire, he said, "We had a tragedy on the road with a young cyclist. On a closed road circuit, the whole thing would be a lot safer.
"The previous week I was in one of the support vehicles on a pursuit race. The amount of petrol being used to safeguard the cyclists, trying to stop other cars overtaking... on a closed road circuit you wouldn't be wasting all that petrol, you wouldn't be putting all that into the environment.
"I also noticed that no youngsters under 16 were racing [on the road]. That's because they are not allowed to. So a closed road circuit is an ideal opportunity to get people match-fit, before they are 16."