Date: Tuesday 11 March 2008

Headline: Road closures for races ‘ridiculous’

Publication: YEP

Byline: Howard Williamson

Page: 8

Category: New

Keywords:

Text: by Howard Williamson

The leader of Leeds City Council has called for a meeting with police to discuss their "over-zealous" attitude towards health and safety for street races.

Police say race organisers now have to apply for road closures to ensure the safety of runners.

And due to the increased costs of staging the race, organisers of the Eccup 10 mile race, scheduled for July, had already decided they would have to cancel.

But council leader Andrew Carter has now given them hope of a reprieve.

He is furious with police and asked his colleague Les Carter (Cons, Adel and Wharfedale) to seek a meeting with the Chief Constable.

"I hold the police entirely responsible for these problems," he said. "There has to be some common sense brought to bear on health and safety.

"This insistence on road closures is absolutely ridiculous and has to be stopped.

"We are not prepared to see voluntary groups go through this hassle."

Rural

Coun Carter pledged that meantime the local authority would pick up the bill for putting out cones and advertising road closures for local road races which can run into several thousand pounds.

Alex Grant, Eccup 10 mile race organiser, had said the costs would be "astronomical" and would end a race which had been held for 22 years without problems.

"The police are being over-zealous with these closures," he claimed.

The Eccup 10 mile is run over largely rural roads on a Sunday morning when traffic is light anyway.

The organisers had already brought forward the start time by one hour to 10am to reduce the risk of conflict with traffic.

The event attracts 600 to 800 runners, aged 18 to 70, who pay an £8 or £10 fee.

A West Yorkshire Police spokesman said the safety of runners and road users was a matter of concern and road closures were the only way in which safety could be significantly improved.

Coun Carter said any race organisers with similar problems could write to Highways Director Gary Bartlett at Highways Services, Ring Road, Middleton, Leeds LS10 4AX.

howard.williamson@ypn.co.uk