Save Preston Park Cycle Track

Save Preston Park Cycle Track

 

Save Preston Park Cycle Track

 

Paul Horta-Hopkins

 

E-petition started to save Brighton’s 138 year old Preston Park track

 

At a time when cycling in the UK is enjoying a massive up-swing in popularity, with more bums on saddles, gold medal and home grown heroes winning like never before, you would think our cycling infrastructure would be secure. Preston Park Cycle Track was built back in 1877 and apart from a couple of dry years (WW1 & WW2), there has been racing there every year since. A recent report from British Cycling however, has put what will hopefully be a temporary stop to that.

 

Brighton and Hove City Council which owns and maintains the track, received a report from BC, informing them that they considered the track to be un-safe. The main issue revolves around the track side safety fencing. Un-named users of the track had identified safety issues rising from the fencing and “other aspects of the track as in need of repair”.

 

The Wednesday evening track league is well attended with many youth and junior riders
The Wednesday evening track league is well attended with many youth and junior riders

 

A statement from a BC spokesperson said “British Cycling recognises the value of the Preston Park facility to local users and we are working with Brighton and Hove City Council to find a solution as quickly as possible,”

 

While the report has only recently come to light, apparently it was delivered to Brighton & Hove City Council almost four months ago. Some work has been carried out by the council, but concerns still remain that parts of the track may still be un-safe for competitive events.

 

A spokesperson from Brighton and Hove City Council said that while the track is no longer up to competition standard, it is safe for non-competitive use.

 

The Sussex Cycle Racing League, who run a Wednesday evening league and Friday track training sessions, face losing the 2015 season if the works aren’t carried out. It does seem that while both BC and the local council are keen to save the track, no-one has stepped up to take charge.

 

Is the future looking dark for Preston Park?
Is the future looking dark for Preston Park?

 

The worry is if that a decision isn’t made soon the condition of the track will worsen, requiring more funds to repair, making it more likely that nothing is done and the south east could lose the track. With local councils all over the UK having to cut their budgets and concentrate on essential services, saving Preston Park Cycle Track is probably not top of their ‘must do’ list. Which probably puts the onus on BC to step in, cycling has some big corporate fans at the moment and maybe they could be convinced to help out at this grass roots venue?

 

Preston Park Cycle Track is an unusual facility, it’s the oldest in the UK and second oldest in the world! However it is a little quirky, with four straights, all different lengths, only one banked corner and a length of 579 metres it’s not likely to feature in any UCI event soon.

 

But despite it’s drawbacks Preston Park Cycle Track has a thriving track league, is used by local clubs for training on road bikes and has been home to the Apres series of circuit races. When it’s not being used for events, locals come down to ride around the track for fun.

 

If you would like to support the Save Preston Park Cycle Track group, then visit their facebook page and add your name to the e-petition they have started.

 

Save Preston Park Cycle Track

 

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Paul Horta-Hopkins

Father and cyclist. Not necessarily in that order...

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