The Board of British Cycling held its regular bi-monthly meeting on Saturday 6th May 2006, and spent a considerable amount of time discussing the evolving situation around the re-location of the Eastway cycling facility in the Lee Valley Park, which will be necessary to enable the construction of the 2012 London Olympic Park.
The Board confirmed that, contrary to what has been alleged, no secret deals have been done by or on behalf of British Cycling with any individual or body in respect of any element of the re-location or of the construction of Olympic or legacy facilities. What has been achieved is a clear, firm and public commitment from the relevant authorities to provide after the Olympics a permanent Velopark on the Olympic site, comprising an indoor velodrome, a road circuit, a BMX track, a cycle-speedway track and off-road provision for mountain biking and cyclo-cross.
In considering the re-location options, the Board took into account the views expressed by British Cycling’s local and regional officials and members and has accepted the Chief Executive’s recommendation that, providing all obstacles can be overcome, the preferred site for re-location shall be Hog Hill in the London Borough of Redbridge.
If it proves impossible for the local authorities and other public bodies involved to put in place the necessary financial resources, administrative arrangements and planning permissions to enable this to take place, then the Board accepts that it may be necessary to accept the Rammey Marsh site in the London Borough of Enfield as a second option. This is of course providing that the same viability issues can be satisfied (which they currently have) and that all necessary environmental, health, and safety requirements can also be put in place.
Given that all other options appear to have been fully explored, the only other possibility would be to have no replacement facility available for a period of months if not years from the closure of Eastway in September of this year and that is clearly not acceptable to the Board.
In coming to its conclusion the Board considered a full range of issues, many of which have been aired in public in recent weeks.
The Board noted that concerns have been expressed that the Rammey Marsh location would lead to a road circuit that was too tightly configured and that there was insufficient space for suitable off-road circuits. Equally, it was noted that at Hog Hill, concern has been expressed that the terrain may lead to a road circuit that would normally be considered too hilly for such a facility, whilst environmental considerations may prevent full exploitation of the flatter part of the site. In both cases, it is clear that further detailed design work will be necessary to confirm that both road and off-road facilities can be provided that will be appropriate and viable for the future users.
The Board recognises that there has been considerable controversy generated over this issue, and regrets that British Cycling’s position on the matter has been widely misconstrued and misreported. It acknowledges that the two sites have different, but equally important, technical, environmental and viability issues which will have to be resolved before a full and final solution can be reached. It hopes that this can be achieved by a greater level of harmony and joint working between those involved, both public agencies and cycling bodies and individuals.
Finally, the Board confirms its confidence in the professional staff of British Cycling who have been dealing with this matter, and feels it is regrettable that some individuals and organisations have chosen to mount personal attacks upon the Chief Executive and the National Facilities Officer, some of which have been reported in the press. In particular, the Board regrets the report that British Cycling’s South East Region had been “persuaded to postpone a vote of no confidence in the National Facilities Officer after the Chief Executive said he would no longer be involved in the matter”. This is not an accurate reflection of the situation and, while the Chief Executive continues to lead on this project, the National Facilities Officer remains involved in providing technical advice and input to this vital project, as he has to many successful facilities across the country.
The Board hopes that this statement can draw a line under the unhelpful controversies and personality clashes that have raged over this issue in recent weeks, and that all concerned can now move forward to ensure that an excellent range of cycling facilities are provided for the area, both before and after the 2012 Olympic Games.