Surrey County Council has started charging up to £3000 for cycling event road closures, which could spell the end of hill climbs on closed roads

One of the Britain’s longest-running cycling events, the Bec CC Hill Climb, is in danger after Surrey County Council has started to impose a charge of up to £3000 for cycling event road closures.

The Bec Cycling Club first organised the event in 1956, but are now appealing to the public to help fund the hill climb to meet road closure charges. A page has been started by event organiser Garry Beckett on crowd-funding website IndieGoGo to raise £5000 in funds.

Tandridge District Council has previously granted road closure on White Lane for no charge, but SCC has stepped in to say that an incorrect piece of legislation was being used to close the road and that applications must now go through SCC.

A charge of £3000 would equate to £20 for each of the event’s 150 competitors. In past years, entry to the event has cost £8.

“It has come to Surrey County Council’s attention that the road that is used (White Lane) during The BEC Hill Climb has previously been closed under the Police and Town Centre Clauses Act 1847,” it said in a letter to Beckett.

“As this event is a sporting event, you are required to close the road under Section 16A of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 and not the Town and Police Clauses Act 1847.”

Applications on the correct forms are supposed to be made 12 months in advance of the event taking place.

When contacted by Cycling Weekly, an SCC spokesperson issued the following statement: “To close a road for a sporting event on the highway the Road Traffic Regulation Act comes into force and although we do not charge admin fees, closures do need to be advertised to residents and the cost of this is passed onto the event organiser who then decide how best to cover this cost. This follows recent discussions with partners to introduce a new framework to help reduce the impact on residents and ensure the safety of spectators and participants during an event.”

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Beckett has been in communication with SCC over the matter to try and ensure the event takes place on October 11 this year as planned, but says the future of the event has been thrown into doubt.

“[The] bottom line in this change of policy is that the Bec CC Hill Climb is now in danger of being priced out of existence. It currently has no choice, but abide by these newly imposed Highway Regulations, which incidentally have been around since 1984, and have not been deemed necessary to implement for most events until the ‘Olympic Legacy’ raised sporting profiles within Surrey,” Beckett said.

“Surrey County Council are insistent that the new Regs must be implemented and the huge increase in costs be borne by the event organisers.

“Despite my explaining that the Bec CC event is NOT a mass participation event enjoying huge income from its entry fees and that it has limited opportunity to enhance its income, SCC’s stance is solid.”

Bec Hill Climb. Photo: Dave Hayward

End of the road? The Bec Hill Climb may struggle to continue if road closure costs are not met. Photo: Dave Hayward

Another Surrey hill climb was also in danger of ending after the county council stepped in with a road closure charge. The Waller Pain Hill Climb on Waller Lane in Caterham is run as part of Caterham Festival, with the express aim of raising funds for charity. The charge for closing the road would have wiped out any chance of raising money, and put the event into debt.

The Waller Pain organisers were able to circumvent the situation by running the event without closing the road, instead obtaining written permission from the police. Waller Lane has very little through traffic and keeping the road open is a viable alternative – but that is a rarity, particularly on the congested roads of Surrey.

If other counties in Britain adopt the same policy as SCC, it could spell the end of hill climbs on closed roads.

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  • Rangjan

    I suggest the organisers run the event on White Lane without formally closing the road. Put a couple of people at the top and bottom with red flags to stop drivers. The road is practically deserted and easily by-passed.

  • Alan

    i) Cycles were widely used in the mid-nineteenth century. Cars came along some fifty years later. Usable roads, particularly their surfaces, were pioneered by those early road-users, aka cyclists. Motorists reaped the benefit a couple of generations afterwards. Roads are not ‘for cars’.
    ii) Car drivers alone do not pay for roads. Everyone does, via taxation levied at their home address through general taxation. This means that drivers pay, cyclists pay, those who are both cyclists and drivers pay, and, much more contentiously, those who are neither drivers nor cyclists pay. Possibly this last issue is where your venom should be directed.
    iii) You do not pay ‘road tax’. It is impossible. It has not existed for 78 years. You may be referring to VED. This is no more than an annual subscription for that sole car to be used on the road for a year (or 6 months, if that’s the way you do it. It is akin to a membership fee for, say, the local gym. VEHICLE (Note: NOT road) Excise Duty is levied upon the particular car to which it is attached. It is banded so that bigger emissions are hit with greater costs. The lowest band is charged nothing at all. Electric cars belong in this category. Unsurprisingly, since they emit nil pollutants, cycles are also zero-rated.
    iv) As Slim has already pointed out, both participants and supporters will be spending their hard-earned on food, drink and accommodation inter alia. This suggests to most thinking observers that the local economy will indeed benefit.
    v) It is always best to ensure that you know what you are talking about before entering a debate.

  • Slim

    So you think that not one of the riders, their families nor any of the spectators will want to buy anything to eat or drink while they’re there, and none of them will perhaps make a trip of it and stay in a local hotel? And you think that car drivers pay for roads (they don’t, roads come out of general taxation); and you apparently think that no cyclist also owns a car on which they pay tax, nor have jobs from which they pay tax? Maybe you should find a different site on which to foist your hateful ill-informed opinions

  • Pottsy

    Wow, your the only person in the UK paying road tax, thanks.

  • RE

    Does this race benefit local business? Of course it doesn’t. So why should some cyclist’s hobby be paid for out of MY tax? Anyway, roads are for cars. Car drivers pay for them, so why should should I not even be allowed to drive on them so some cyclists, who don’t even pay road tax, can practice their hobby?

  • Pottsy

    WWWWWTTTTTTTFFFFFF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I feel less like an individual human being & more like an ‘economic unit’ in this country every day, the country we grew up in is being confined to the history books.