Thousands of cycling enthusiasts have joined a campaign to “save” the Preston Park velodrome after it was declared unsafe for racing.
This week British Cycling said that it no longer met competition standards which means that the clubs who use it such as the Sussex Cycle Racing League have had to suspend racing events there.
A Facebook page set up yesterday stated its aim as to: “not just make things ‘good enough’ for British Cycling to confirm that it can once again be used for racing, but that we raise enough pressure to make sure the track is improved to the highest degree so that future generations of cyclists can enjoy track racing in Brighton.
“The track could be the centre of excellence for cycling.”
By 7pm this evening, more than 3,640 people had joined the campaign there, and a petition on Brighton and Hove City Council’s website signed by about 250 people.
A statement released by the campaign said: “The oldest cycle racing track in the country is at risk of being closed permanently.
“Four months ago British Cycling issued a report to Brighton and Hove City Council listing repairs and improvements required to make the velodrome at Preston Park safe for racing for the 2015 cycling season.
“Numerous emails, requesting that action be taken to initiate the required improvements, have been sent by the various committees which are involved in putting on cycling events at this historic and hugely popular venue. So far, however, there has been no known response from the council.
“The 2015 track season is due to start in the middle of April, but because of the lack of action so far, there is a serious concern that this issue will not be resolved and as a result there will be no racing at Preston Park Track in 2015.
“The lack of communication from the council makes it difficult to assess the situation, but it would seem that the council is claiming not to know how much the repairs will cost and are therefore unwilling to make the decisions necessary to initiate the work.
“As the council has had the British Cycling report for four months it must be assumed that no key member of council staff has taken responsibility for finding out the facts and seeking a resolution.
“British Cycling is not at liberty to share the report content with interested parties until the council have responded officially to the report.
“This legal requirement is a frustration for those who wish to exert pressure on the council to take action as quickly as possible in order to secure racing this season. Until the council respond to the report nobody else can enter the dialogue.
“Preston Park Cycle Track is a valuable facility and is featured heavily in the council’s sports development strategy.
“It is well used by Preston Park Youth Cycle Club whose qualified coaches engage over 100 children aged 6 to 18 years in a variety of skills activities as well as racing throughout most of the year.
“Track racing is promoted by the Sussex Cycle Racing League every Wednesday evening from April to August. This involves, typically, up to 80 riders of all ages and includes many local riders as well as those who travel from other parts of the South East because of the high quality and well organised event on offer.
“The organisers, all of whom are volunteers, commit a great deal of time to the organisation and safe running of racing nights.
“As it stands, Preston Park Track is closed and the council seems to have no sense of urgency in effecting a timetable to ensure a swift resolution in time for the summer season of racing.
“It is high time that someone took proper responsibility for the future of Preston Park Cycle Track.”
The council, which owns the track, said it was looking into ways of repairing the track.
A spokesman said: “We are in communication with British Cycling and working with them. The cycle track in Preston Park no longer meets their competition standards as they are very different from day to day requirements.
“The cycle track is safe for non-competitive use and continues to be well used on a very regular basis.
“The council is looking to identify the cost associated with bringing the cycle track up to British Cycling competition standards and we are hoping British Cycling will assist us with this exercise. We then need to explore potential sources of funding.”