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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